How will Dogs react?

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

What would have been a sense of resignation last season has given way to a determined hope this year.
Mississippi State’s baseball team knows about being swept, having suffered that indignation six times in 2010. The Bulldogs (19-9, 4-5 SEC) experienced it again this past weekend, when they dropped three games to Georgia by a combined seven runs.
While frustration accompanied the weekend’s failures, there is a sense of optimism pervading this year’s team.
“Last year it was a different story – we were young and almost, at times, we expected to lose,” senior Nick Vickerson said Monday. “That’s just how it went. We didn’t feel like (Georgia) was better than us. We had a chance to at least get two out of there.”
To hear coach John Cohen tell it, MSU just couldn’t catch a break. The Bulldogs, who batted .387 in a sweep of Auburn the previous weekend, hit only .200 in Athens and scored five runs total.
Conversely, Georgia found the holes and got help from the wind on some home runs.
“It is pretty frustrating,” Vickerson said, “especially when you see them hitting the ball off the end of the bat and getting some timely hits when sometimes you feel like they don’t deserve them. But that’s how the game goes, and I thought we handled it well.”
Through the first three SEC weekends of this season, MSU is batting .264 and averaging 4.56 runs per game; this time last year those numbers were .258 and 4.77. But the Bulldogs feel a lot better about how they’re swinging the bats this season.
“In two of the three games we had less strikeouts, more balls in play, more ground balls, more line drives than our opponent, and none of them seemed to fall,” Cohen said.
The coach was happy with his pitchers, especially the relievers, who gave up four runs in 9 2/3 innings on the weekend. And he’s far from panicking.
“We’re disappointed, but nobody’s down,” Cohen said, “because I think they all realize how capable we are, and we’re excited about the week coming up.”
MSU returns to action today in Pearl with a 6:30 p.m. meeting against No. 18 Southern Miss (22-5), with sophomore Andrew Busby (1-0, 4.00 ERA) starting on the mound. It’ll be State’s first tough mid-week test since SEC play began and will be followed by a home series against No. 4 Florida.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or brad.locke@journalinc.com.