Guess what we've got to talk about this morning? Baseball, baseball and more baseball. And a few other items.
MSU right-hander Chris Stratton now has a centerpiece for his trophy shelf, taking home the Ferriss Trophy in Jackson yesterday (CLICK HERE). The junior from Tupelo has made quite the impression on scouts and others who follow college baseball on the national scene. But Stratton has also impressed on a more local level.
Ole Miss second baseman Alex Yarbrough, who was also a Ferriss finalist, spoke highly of Stratton and the improvements he's made since last year.
"He's got three really plus pitches. His fastball really jumps on you, and he can throw a slider and his changeup in any count. He's made great strides this season, and it's really paid off for him," Yarbrough said.
Much of what was discussed about Stratton yesterday was the same ground I covered in a feature story on him a few days ago (CLICK HERE). The mild-mannered Stratton has taken on a more aggressive demeanor on the mound while also keeping his emotions under control. Off the field, he's still the same Stratton he's always been.
"Off the field he's president of the United States. He's the governor," MSU coach John Cohen said. "There's nobody in the world that would dislike Chris Stratton. He's just a remarkable young man. He does it in the classroom, he does it in the community. You just can't say enough things."
• Also in today's Journal is an update on the Bulldogs themselves (CLICK HERE). They're coming off a tough series loss at Florida, which has moved up to No. 3 in the Baseball America rankings (MSU fell out after being 25th last week).
The pitching last weekend was superb, the hitting not so much, and there were some defensive issues (five errors, leading to three unearned runs). MSU was only outscored 6-4 on the weekend. Maybe the offense will come around and be more consistent, but it's no secret MSU will have to ride its pitching to whatever postseason success might await.
"I just want our guys to not move, keep standing there," pitching coach Butch Thompson said. "We're really doing some of this early on, but two outs we couldn't get out of some innings. That's how close it was, and (the Gators) were making the one more pitch or getting the one more out or making one more play defensively. For us to go anywhere, that's what we have to be able to do, to continue that for our team."
MSU plays Central Arkansas tonight and then hosts No. 4 Kentucky this weekend. I'll try to break down the possible SEC Tournament seed scenarios for State later this week, assuming the process of it doesn't drive me to heavy drinking.
• Hey, look, USA Today has a new database listing schools' expenses and revenues (CLICK HERE). Have some aspirin handy and enjoy.
• ICYMI (that means "in case you missed it" in Twitter shorthand), a couple of former Bulldogs signed as undrafted free agents on Monday: James Carmon with Buffalo, Wade Bonner with Philadelphia.