Hello from Hoover

HOOVER | As I type this, Mississippi State’s baseball team is on the bus and en route to the site of the 2011 SEC Tournament. Well, they’re not coming to Regions Park until tomorrow. The Bulldogs practiced at Dudy Noble Field earlier this afternoon instead of doing so here, so they’ll be going straight to the Wynfrey Hotel tonight.

MSU (34-21, 14-16 SEC) takes on No. 3-ranked Florida (41-15, 22-8) on Wednesday in the tournament’s second game (should start around 12:30 or 1 p.m.). Freshman Evan Mitchell (5-1, 3.48 ERA) will start for State.

Florida has not yet announced its starter and might not do so until tomorrow morning. Coaches must turn in their lineups no later than an hour before first pitch; in this case, Arkansas and Alabama will be playing ahead of this game, but if Kevin O’Sullivan hasn’t turned it in by the seventh inning, he’ll be getting a call from the SEC.

I meant to mention this in my earlier post about the All-SEC team, but Florida sophomore catcher Mike Zunino was named the SEC player of the year today, and I figured either he or LSU’s Mikie Mahtook would win it. Zunino is batting .383 – tied with Mahtook for second in the league, behind MSU’s Jarrod Parks (.385) – with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs (both of which lead the league).

Zunino, one of three Gators selected to the first team, was named player of the week on Monday. When UF visited MSU back on Super Bulldog Weekend (April 8-10), Zunino had a big series: 6 of 12 with two doubles, a grand slam and six RBIs.

On a personal note, this is my first time in Hoover, and it’s a nice setup. I hear it will get rather crowded tomorrow, though, so arrive early. Alabama and Arkansas are set to start at 9:30 a.m., and MSU-Florida will go off 30 minutes after that one finishes.