Diamond Dogs can improve tourney seed

Trevor Fitts will take the mound for Mississippi State tonight as the team looks to improve its tournament position. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

Trevor Fitts will take the mound for Mississippi State tonight as the team looks to improve its tournament position. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Mississippi State still has plenty to play for heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

The 20th-ranked Bulldogs sit in second place in the SEC Western Division and sport the same 16-11 conference record as South Carolina and Vanderbilt in the overall standings.

MSU will attempt to improve its SEC Tournament seeding traveling to No. 19 Alabama to take on the Crimson Tide starting at 6:35 p.m. tonight on ESPN3.com.

“If you’d have told us at the beginning of the year we could control our own destiny heading into the last weekend we’d be excited about that,” said MSU shortstop Seth Heck. “We were able to squeeze two wins out last weekend, which was huge for us. We’re feeling confident in what we’re doing. Our pitchers have been lights out the last two weekends and hopefully this weekend we can score some more runs for them.”

The Diamond Dogs (33-19) have won three of their last four SEC series including two consecutive sweeps on the road at Missouri and Auburn. State is 11-7 away from Dudy Noble Field this season including eight consecutive victories.

“There’s something neat about going on the road and you look at it as a challenge when everything is going against you,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “Our last couple of times on the road our kids have played well and been successful. At this moment we’re going to use whatever we’ve got and one thing we’ve got is that we have played well on the road recently.”

A short week coupled with the impending SEC Tournament may cause Mississippi State to retool its pitching rotation. Junior right-hander Trevor Fitts is slated to start tonight’s game but the Bulldogs will wait to announce the starting pitcher for the final two contests.

“I’m not crazy about moving guys up,” Cohen said. “I want to keep them in the same spot. But one thing about Ross (Mitchell) that we love is we feel like he helps the starter the next day. If you put him at the tail end of this thing then he won’t have a guy behind him so we’ll wait and see. It’ll be so much easier after watching (Alabama) up close and personal for a day.”

Alabama

The Tide roll into the final series with an identical overall record as MSU but are 14-12 in league action. Alabama has lost five of its last six SEC outings but had a 15-10 victory at Jacksonville State on Tuesday.

The Crimson Tide lead the overall series 185-207-4 although State has won six of the last seven meetings including a sweep last year in Starkville.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

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SCHEDULED PITCHERS

Tonight: MSU RHP Trevor Fitts (4-3, 2.62) vs. UA RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (4-1, 3.71)

Friday: MSU TBA vs. UA RHP Spencer Turnbull (5-5, 2.36)

Saturday: MSU TBA vs. UA LHP Justin Kamplain (5-3, 3.29)