Mississippi State went into last week with a regional host basically locked up. A win or two in the tournament would solidify the regional so the State fans had low expectations for the tournament in Hoover regardless of the Bulldogs' run through last years on their way to the seventh SEC Tournament title in school history. Mississippi State (43-17) went all out anyways and won three of four games losing to Vanderbilt in the semifinals.
With their three big wins in the tournament, the Bulldogs not only locked up the regional, they ended up getting into National Seed conversation before dropping out of Hoover. They ended up being announced as a regional host paired with the number six overall seed, Virginia.
But with the selection of teams this morning, State found that their road to the Super Regional might be the toughest in the tournament. The Dawgs are paired with Mercer, South Alabama and Central Arkansas. All three are solid ball clubs that might lack the name, but are not lacking in coaching and players.
State fans know very well what Central Arkansas is capable of as they handed the Bulldogs their only two non-conference losses all season, sweeping the weekend series. With UCA being the four seed, that tells Bulldog fans all they need to know about how this sets up.
But how will the other teams react to 14-15,000 fans at these ball games? Anything can happen in baseball, but there has to be something said about smaller schools that play in front of hundereds of fans a game coming into a place like no other in Dudy Noble. We will see just how big a factor that plays but State certainly seems to have heated up offensively and the three-hit day by Hunter Renfroe on Saturday is an encouraging sign that State may be ready for a complete team run. Let's take a look at the final regular season rankings.
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Good to see Hunter Renfroe starting to resurface after struggling at the plate. Hopefully he's about to get hot right on time. Let's take a look at where State moved up or fell during the SEC Tournament this week in our statistical rankings.
Batting Average: 8th - Hunter Renfroe (.352); 9th- Adam Frazier (.352)
Hits: 3rd- Frazier (90); 8th- Renfroe (74)
Slugging %: 1st - Renfroe (.652)
On Base %: 7th- Renfroe (.445); 8th- Alex Detz (.445); 14th- Brett Pirtle- (.424)
Runs Scored: 3rd-Frazier (54); 6th-Renfroe (49)
RBI: 3rd- Renfore (54)
Doubles: T-4th Frazier (16); T-10th- Renfroe (14)
Triples: T-2nd - Frazier (6)
Home Runs: 1st - Renfroe (15)
Total Bases: 3rd- Renfroe (137); 7th- Frazier (118)
Walks: 2nd-Alex Detz (47); 9th- Renfroe (34)
Hit by Pitch: T-2nd-Brett Pirtle (19)
At Bats: 1st- Frazier (256); 14th-Bradford (221)
Batting Average: 3rd (.296)
Hits: 3rd (607)
Slugging %: 4th (.393)
On Base %: 3rd (.389)
Runs Scored: 3rd (363)
RBI: 3rd (323)
Doubles: 4th (92)
Triples: T-5th (12)
Home Runs: 7th (28)
Total Bases: 3rd (807)
At Bats: 2nd (2054)
Walks: 2nd (261)
Hit by Pitch: 4th (72)
Stolen Bases: T-5th (54)
Team/Individual Defense and Pitching
Earned Run Average: 3rd (2.77) Leaders: Ross Mitchell- 2nd- (1.51)
Opposing Batting Average: 4th (.224) Leaders: R. Mitchell-7th (.206)
Innings Pitched: 3rd (545.1) Leader: Graveman- 9th (91.2)
Strikeouts: 1st (500) Leader: Jonathan Holder- 9th (79)
Wins: 3rd (43) Leaders: R. Mitchell- 2nd (11)
Saves: T-5th (18) Leader: Jonathan Holder- T-1st- (16)
Appearances: Leader: Chad Girodo- T-4th (31); R. Mitchell- T-9th (29); Holder- T-11th (28)
(Least Amount) Hits: T-3rd (443) Leaders: R. Mitchell- 6th- (57)
(Least Amount) Earned Runs: 3rd (168) Leader: R. Mitchell- T-2nd- (13)
(Least Amount) Doubles: 2nd (57); Leader: R. Mitchell- T-13th (9)
(Least Amount) Triples: T-2nd (5) Leaders: R. Mitchell and Pollorena -T-1st (0)
(Least Amount) Home Runs: T-3rd (19) Leaders: R. Mitchell and Pollorena- T-6th (2)
(Least Amount) Intentional Walks: T-1st (3)
Fielding %: 6th (.975) Leader: Jacob Robson- T-1st (1.000)
Chances: 2nd (2421) Leader: Wes Rea- T-12th (419)
Putouts: 3rd (1636) Leader: Rea- 9th (395)
Assists: 2nd (724) Leader: Frazier-1st (209); Pirtle- 11th (153)
Double Plays: 2nd (69) Leaders: Frazier-2nd (54); Pirtle-11th (39); Rea- 10th (40)
Despite that tough loss to Vanderbilt, this might have been one of State's better weeks since conference play started both offensively and defensively. The MSU bullpen was unstoppable until the Saturday ball game and I look for that to stay about the same this next weekend.
So what to expect for regional play? Lots and lots of Maroon. It has been the most hyped baseball weekend that I can remember quickly surpassing our Super Regional in 2007 and I expect the crowds to do that as well. By the end of the weekend you will most likely see a new all-time record in attendance and in regional attendance.
Mercer and South Alabama will kick things off Friday at 2 p.m. with State and Central Arkansas set for their rematch at 7 p.m. Both games will be broadcast of ESPN3.com. Stay plugged in right here on the blog for more info throughout the week. And don't forget to go get tickets this week. PACK THE DUDE.