The Bulldogs are off to quite the hot start this year and find themselves in the top 10 of all 2,367 college baseball polls. The 16-0 start is good for 2nd best in the history of the program behind the 18-0 start in 2006. During that equally hot start, MSU vaulted to #1 after being 15-0 - here, State is by all accounts a noticeably better ball team but they are #3 according to Baseball America.
Central Arkansas comes to Starkville this weekend for a 3-game series. Mississippi State would need to sweep the Bears to break that school record by going 19-0. That will be difficult as UCA is 12-1 on the year.
The first three weekends featured four games in three days, but this starts the typical 3-game sets we'll see during conference play starting next weekend vs. #7 LSU. So, the weekend rotation has been set (for now):
Friday (6:30) - Jacob Lindgren, 2-0 0.98 ERA
Saturday (2:00) - Evan Mitchell, 0-0 2.08 ERA
Sunday (1:00) - Kendall Graveman, 1-0 1.80 ERA
It's kind of surprising to me that Evan Mitchell is getting the start over Will Cox (2-0 0.60 ERA) only because Cox has been so good in his three starts. But Mitchell is a year ahead of him, his 2.08 ERA is nothing to balk at, and he does have loads of talent. I hope he does well because he is my boy (seeing as how we grew up in the same town over here in Jawja). Could Will Cox come in for relief of Mitchell, or will it be what we've seen the last two weekends - a Mitchell game with Evan starting and Ross finishing? It will be interesting to see if Cox is used, or will Woodruff come out of the pen? State plays previously ranked Southern Miss on Tuesday in Pearl, MS so one of those two will get the start.
Central Arkansas has played a couple of common opponents to MSU: Mississippi Valley State and Grambling State. They swept through those games pretty easily, recently beating GSU this week by a score of 10-1. State only beat that same team a couple of weeks ago 2-0, for what that's worth, which is nothing. UCA's only loss was to Vanderbilt (10-2), but they are #2 in the country, so...
The Bears have a team batting average of .300, and a team ERA of 2.12. One of their better hitters is named Micheal Marietta (.311 15 RBI) - should be interesting when he faces off against Evan Mitchell since Marietta is his (and my) hometown. (that won't really be interesting to anyone other than me and the drunk guy in the LFL).
UCA has some pitchers, who, from the looks of their stats, may be able to hold their own. You can view their team stats HERE.
I'm not going to say this is without a doubt the toughest test MSU will face so far this season, but it very well may be. The Bears look to be a good team [I say without having ever seen them]. So, the Dawgs will have their work cut out for them if they want to own that record. But it's a good thing. With LSU coming to town next weekend the competition will be ratcheted up a notch so it's good to play some stiffer competition now.
For all the MSU stats your heart could possibly desire, check out WCF's post from earlier in the week.