By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – In 1989 Mississippi State set the NCAA on-campus attendance record with a crowd of 14,991 at Dudy Noble Field.
In fact, the Bulldogs own all of the top 10 on-campus crowds in NCAA history. This weekend MSU plans to set a new attendance benchmark while hosting in-state rival Ole Miss for Super Bulldog Weekend.
“Super Bulldog Weekend is something that is really special at Mississippi State and something our kids really look forward to,” said MSU coach John Cohen. “When you throw Ole Miss on top of it, it makes it even more exciting. It’s hard to say it’s just another SEC weekend when we have a chance to maybe break the on-campus record for attendance. This is why you come to Mississippi State for opportunities like this weekend.”
The series gets underway tonight at 6:30 p.m. and resumes at 3 p.m. Saturday on FSN following the MSU football spring game. Game 3 is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. first pitch on Sunday.
The Diamond Dogs lead the series 242-199-5 and are 120-78-1 in Starkville against Ole Miss. The two Magnolia State rivals split four games last season with each team scoring 20 total runs in the 2013 meetings.
The Bulldogs (21-13, 6-6) were swept last weekend at LSU, losing their first SEC series this season. Cohen’s club bounced back with a win over another in-state opponent, Southern Miss, 4-3 in 11-innings Tuesday night at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
The Diamond Dogs will shuffle its pitching staff with Preston Brown scratched from the rotation for the second straight weekend due to injury. Instead junior All-American southpaw Ross Mitchell will take the mound for his first career Friday night start and hopes to continue a string of four consecutive quality starts.
“I’m going to try to make the best of the opportunity,” Mitchell said. “I just want to try to help our team win a ball game because that’s what’s most important.”
Junior right-hander Trevor Fitts will take the mound on Saturday with Sunday’s starting role still undecided. Senior righty Ben Bracewell and junior right-hander Brandon Woodruff are the leading candidates for that role.
Bracewell pitched four innings in a start against USM on Tuesday and Woodruff followed with 31⁄3 frames of relief.
“One of those guys is going to start for us on Sunday,” Cohen said. “Quite frankly, I’m really pleased with both of them.”
Woodruff, a Wheeler native, has not started since March 7. In four relief appearances he has thrown 102⁄3 shutout innings giving up just four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts.
“Brandon Woodruff has been a different guy his last four times out,” Cohen said. “He’s throwing to his spots with the two-seamer and getting a ton more swing and miss. He’s looked like the guy we thought he was going to be going into this season.”
Today: LHP Ross Mitchell (5-2, 1.54 ERA)
Saturday: RHP Trevor Fitts (2-2, 3.41 ERA)
Sunday: RHP Ben Bracewell (2-2, 2.48 ERA) or RHP Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 4.12 ERA)