By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Caleb McClanahan threw 249 pitches over a 10-day span, including 158 in a pair of starts four days apart. But he’s good to go.
The senior right-hander will take the mound tonight for Central Ar-kansas in its NCAA Starkville Regional opener against No. 14 Mississippi State. McClanahan (10-5, 2.17 ERA) has put in a lot of work lately, including two starts in last week’s Southland Conference tournament, which UCA won.
In his last outing, six days ago, McClanahan tossed six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits versus Oral Roberts.
“I’m good. Good to go,” he said. “Thrown a lot, but we went through all that in the fall, in the spring, all the working out and the running and everything. I’m fine.”
McClanahan has logged a team-high 1161⁄3 innings this season, and coach Allen Gum has no qualms running him out there for tonight’s game.
“He’s been our horse. He’s been our No. 1 guy for two years,” Gum said.
UCA (39-20) won two of three from MSU (43-17) here back in March. McClanahan took the Game 1 loss, giving up two runs on three hits in 41⁄3 innings.
“I’ve tweaked some things since the beginning of the season when I played them,” he said. “I’ll be bringing that out.”
Big crowd expected
McClanahan and the rest of his team don’t expect to be overwhelmed by the environment that’s expected today at Dudy Noble Field. More than 6,300 tournament passes have already been sold, and MSU officials are expecting a heavy walk-up crowd for single-game tickets.
All three head coaches for the visiting teams believe that having played at other big schools – like Florida State, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State – will help prepare their players for the atmosphere today.
“A regional wouldn’t be a regional with 150 people in the stands,” South Alabama coach Mark Calvi said. “I hope it’s packed out.”
MSU’s Hunter Renfroe and Jonathan Holder were both named first-team All-Americans by Louisville Slugger on Thursday. Reliever Ross Mitchell made the third team.
Renfroe, a junior outfielder, is batting .352 and has 15 home runs, which is tied for the SEC lead. He also has 54 RBIs.
Holder, a sophomore closer, has a school-record 16 saves this year to go with a 2-0 record and 1.00 ERA. Mitchell, a sophomore, is 11-0 with a 1.55 ERA as a long reliever.