Freshman Woodruff Gets Nod for SEC Tourney Opener

Mississippi State will put the baseball in the hands of a freshman tomorrow. Brandon Woodruff (0-2, 3.46 ERA) will start on the mound when the seventh-seeded Bulldogs face sixth-seeded Arkansas in the first round of the SEC Tournament, coach John Cohen announced this afternoon.

Woodruff was one of three candidates Cohen mentioned earlier today, the others being junior left-hander Luis Pollorena (4-0, 1.50) and sophomore righty Ben Bracewell (0-0, 0.63). Woodruff, a right-hander from Wheeler, has started against one SEC team but hasn’t started in an SEC game, per se.

That start came against Ole Miss in the annual Governor’s Cup game, which counts as a non-conference contest. Woodruff gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out one and walked three as the Bulldogs lost, 6-3.

Woodruff has made three appearances in league play, compiling a 10.80 ERA in 1 2/3 innings. He’s shown some promise as a midweek starter, boasting a 2.55 ERA in three starts (17 2/3 innings total).

“Even though he’s a freshman, he composes himself well,” MSU catcher Mitch Slauter said earlier today. “He doesn’t let the game get to him. He stays within himself, and he has some of the best stuff on our staff.”

Woodruff will face an Arkansas team that’s hitting .283 on the year, including .273 in conference play.

Arkansas will start sophomore righty Ryne Stanek (6-3, 2.96), a weekend starter who’s been battling injuries the last few weeks.