Mississippi State fans have little time left to wait until they can celebrate the start of the Bulldog baseball season. Very few venues can match the atmosphere of Dudy Noble Field with Left Field Lounge and what is usually a strong crowd on weekends.
This year, the Bulldogs kick off the season against the Washington State Cougars. While the Bulldogs found themselves six outs from Omaha last year, Washington State played through a disappointing season and missed the playoffs. Both teams will enter the weekend looking for positive signs about the future as they test out new players and a new weekend rotation.
Brett Gleason from the Daily Evergreen, sportsminds.org, and other sites joined Joe Abston (@bulldawgjoe) and me (@justinrsutton) on the Daily Grind (@bsrdailygrind) on Bulldog Sports Radio to give us some insight into the Washington State squad. If you missed it, you can check out on demand in the BSR app. After the break, we look at some of the highlights of the interview.
While Bulldog fans will be watching to see how their newcomers play this weekend, the Cougars have a few talented players to keep an eye on as well. Gleason told us that Taylor Ard and Jason Monda are expected to do big things for Washington State.
"Taylor Ard is huge, and he is one of the three main components of the offense," said Gleason. "Jason Monda, who played center field last year, moved into left field this year. Donnie (Marbut, Washington State coach) said he is one of the most talented kids he has ever worked with. He is a force in the field, at the plate, and on the bases."
Gleason also mentioned that Washington State will be putting three new weekend starters on the hill against the Bulldogs. J.D. Leckenby, who is transitioning from the bullpen will start on Friday. Freshman Tanner Chleboard will be the Sunday starter, and Kyle Swannack will start Saturday. All three are right handed pitchers.
Leckenby is the only one of the three to pitch for Washington State last year.
"He's got a low to mid 90s sinker that he relies on heavily," said Gleason. "He induces a lot of early, weak contact which should help him go late into games. He's got a slider he uses a lot and a change up that it sounds like he has gained confidence in over the summer."
The Bulldogs will throw Ben Bracewell Friday and Nick Routt Saturday.
Game times are set for Friday at 6, Saturday at 2:30 and Sunday at 1:30.