By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
When Southern Miss made an unexpected run to the College World Series last season, Luke Adkins could have been a part of that.
But he was at Mississippi State, where he’s spent the last two seasons playing outfield for a program that, while it has been to the CWS eight times, is well on its way to a third consecutive losing season.
It’s Adkins’ senior year.
The Nettleton native began his career at USM but transferred to MSU after two seasons. He has no regrets about that move.
“Not at all. I grew up wanting to be a Bulldog, I am a Bulldog,” Adkins said. “I had an opportunity to play at Mississippi State, and that’s what I did. There was no looking back.”
Entering this weekend’s three-game series with Auburn (30-15, 12-9 SEC), the Bulldogs (20-25, 5-16) have lost eight in a row, including a sweep at the hands of Ole Miss, a head-scratching loss to Jackson State on Tuesday – JSU’s first over MSU since 1992 – and a 14-3 beatdown from USM, the Bulldogs’ worst loss to their down-state rivals.
Second-year coach John Cohen insists this is not rock bottom.
“Rock bottom is when kids quit, and our kids haven’t quit, because that’s not the personality of the kids that we have,” he said. “I think they all sense that something out there is waiting to happen good for us.”
Cohen’s players have bought into that refrain, even the seniors who won’t be around when the promised success arrives. Adkins said it’s tough going out this way, but he is playing like a man with a purpose.
He’s batting .331 and leads the team with 44 runs scored, and he echoes Cohen when he says that better times aren’t far off.
“It seems like we are a couple pitches or couple of good at-bats from being right where we wanted to be,” Adkins said. “We all have worked our tails off, just haven’t had things go our way.”
Adkins exemplifies what Cohen asks of his players. The left-hander reminds Cohen of himself when he played for MSU, saying Adkins isn’t an “off-the-charts” player but has certainly turned himself into a quality SEC hitter and outfielder.
Adkins was recruited by MSU out of Nettleton High School, but then-MSU coach Ron Polk wanted him to go the junior college route first. Adkins instead chose USM.
Cohen said he’s glad Adkins eventually found his way to Starkville.
“I love Luke Adkins,” Cohen said. “I don’t know where we’d be without him.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tonight: Mississippi State LHP Tyler Whitney (0-2, 4.84) vs. Auburn LHP Cory Luckie (5-2, 6.23)
Saturday: Mississippi State RHP Chris Stratton (4-3, 5.64) vs. Auburn TBA
Sunday: Mississippi State TBA vs. Auburn LHP Grant Dayton (5-2, 4.86)