The Mississippi State Bulldogs got off to a hot start in their season opening series against Washington State last week at Dudy Noble Field, going 2-1 against the Pac-12 opponents. This weekend, Mississippi State fans get to watch Mississippi Valley State, with colorful coach Doug Shanks, and Big 12 foe Kansas.
Here's a look at what the weekend might hold for the Bulldogs.
The Jayhawks are off to their best start since 2007 by winning their first three games of the season, knocking off Middle Tennessee State (7-3), Bowling Green (3-1), and shutting out Belmont (2-0).
When looking at the team, Bulldog fans will notice that the Jayhawks have a team that features thirteen new players, twelve of which are freshman. According to Mike Cummings, who will be doing the color commentary of the Jayhawks' broadcast this weekend, two of the freshmen started in the outfield for Kansas.
One of those freshmen, Michael Suiter, went three for three against Belmont, and another freshman Justin Protacio drove in both runs against the Bruins. Thomas Taylor, a junior pitcher, hurled 8 1/3 scoreless innings on his way to being named Big 12 pitcher of the week.
Freshman Wes Benjamin, a lefthander who threw seven innings, allowing one run against Bowling Green, is slated to start against the Bulldogs tonight, and Taylor should start Saturday against Mississippi State. Tanner Poppe, who moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, should come in late in the game. Poppe is a right-handed pitcher with a 95 mile per hour fastball.
At the plate, Zac Elgie and Jake Marasco have the big bats in the Jayhawks' lineup.
The Delta Devils are a more familiar foe for the Bulldogs, and though they are a SWAC foe, they will not be intimidated by the situation. Mississippi Valley State tends to play several SEC schools, including Alabama and LSU in addition to Mississippi State, and they have taken on foes such as Notre Dame recently.
"I recruit players who want to play that schedule," said Shanks. "I have some guys who come to play for us because of the kind of schedule we play."
As with most seasons, Delta State is in a bit of a turnover, only returning a handful of players from last year and importing many junior college additions.
"I only have three guys coming back that have played Division 1 baseball before," said Shanks. "One of those guys is Michael Lowe, our center fielder. He was the Oregon High School Player of the Year. He is a solid player, an SEC type player."
The Bulldogs face Kansas today at 6:30 and Saturday at 4. The Delta Devils will take on the Bulldogs Saturday at noon and Sunday at 4.
To hear the full interviews with Coach Shanks and Mike Cummings, use the on demand feature on your Bulldog Sports Radio app and check out the Friday edition of the Daily Grind.