PALO ALTO, Calif. – As expected, sophomore left-hander Eric DuBose has been the featured performer for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Olympic Games hopeful, a native of tiny Gibertown, Ala. (just outside of Meridian), has charmed the West Coast press with his candor.
DuBose, a player who enjoys the media spotlight, surprised the print and broadcast journalists Friday by stopping in the media area and asking if he could sample the meal being served to the reporters. West Coast media are more laid back and not used to college players speaking up.
“No wonder everybody wants to be a reporter,” said DuBose, trying to sneak a piece of strawberry cake, before being warned away by an NCAA representative. “I’m studying to be a coach, but I think I’m going to change my major next year. You guys (media) have got it made.”
Multi-culture shock: California’s ethnic diversity has come as a surprise to the players – most of whom haven’t traveled outside the Southeastern United States.
“I haven’t seen a good-looking girl out here yet,” yelled out outfielder Damian Scioneaux, while riding on the team bus to Sunken Diamond Thursday night.
After the laughter died down, a voice from the back of the bus cracked, “Heck, I haven’t even seen an American out here yet.”
MSU Assistant Director of Media Relations, Heath Nielson, a native of American Fork, Utah, said, “It’s a real culture shock for most of these guys. They’re just not used to what it’s like socially in this part of the country. But they’re learning that America is bigger than just the south.”
Of course, the Californians are adjusting to the boys from Starkville, too. Several players, including DuBose, admit, “We get asked a lot by these people to just talk. They like hearing our accents.”
Snapping a streak: Mississippi State’s 6-2 win over UC Santa Barbara snapped a four-game losing streak in regional tournament play. The Bulldogs lost the final two games of the 1992 Mideast Regional to finish third and in 1993, the Bulldogs went out in two straight in the East Regional.
Not a familiar foe: The Bulldogs, until Friday night, had played Stanford only once – a bit of a surprise considering the tradition of excellence at both schools. Stanford defeated MSU 6-1 in the 1990 College World Series. It was the last time the Bulldogs have played in the CWS.
Tournament notes: While DuBose has been the media focal point for MSU, there other top players – Stanford pitchers Jason Middlebrook, Chad Hutchinson and All-American catcher A.J. Hinch; outfielder Wynter Phoenix of UC Santa Barbara; and All-American outfielder J.D. Drew of Florida State. …Stanford’s 10-5 win over Cal State Northridge didn’t end until 12:42 p.m. (CST) Friday. …Northeast Mississippi is well represented in the stands, with several fans in attendance, including the parents and family members of MSU’s Dustin Dabbs (Tupelo), Van Johnson (Saltillo) and Brad Freeman (Oxford).