The Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Holy Cross Crusaders will square off for the very first time Friday at 4 pm to open a four-game set at Dudy Noble Field this weekend in Starkville.
For Mississippi State (2-2), the series will be as much about getting back on track in a few areas of the game as it is about winning. For Holy Cross, the series will be about opening their season as the Crusaders have not yet played a game.
In order for the Bulldogs to have a good chance of success this weekend, the team has to find a way to pick up hits. Against Western Carolina, the team hit .207 for the series, and against Memphis, the squad hit .219. Of the projected Friday starters, only Brett Pirtle (.333) sits above the .300 mark on the season. Wes Rea, who leads the team in RBIs with six, currently stands at .231. If it had not been for the team's ability to draw 30 walks this season, it is unlikely that they would have scored 19 runs in their first four games of the year.
With the bats struggling at the start of the season, Mississippi State's pitching staff will have to be ready to shoulder the load in the series.
|Friday||MSU: Brandon Woodruff (0-1, 18.00 ERA)||Holy Cross: Nate Walker|
|Saturday (G1)||MSU: Trevor Fitts (1-0, 1.50 ERA)||Holy Cross: Phil Reese|
|Saturday (G2)||MSU: TBA||Holy Cross: Colin Manning|
|Sunday||MSU: Dakota Hudston (0-0, 2.25 ERA)||Holy Cross: Donny Murray|
One of the early things to watch for Mississippi State will be the performance of Brandon Woodruff. Bulldog fans have held high hopes for the right-hander, but so far, those hopes have not been fulfilled. John Cohen and company would love to have him as a solid option for the weekend, but how many more shaky starts can they endure before they lose confidence?
Trevor Fitts appears to have an inside track at winning one of the weekend starter positions for the Bulldogs. The same might be true for freshman Dakota Hudson, who turned in a solid performance in his first ever action for Mississippi State.
The pitchers will also need help from the guys in the field as the Bulldogs have not looked particularly crisp this season on defense. The team has committed three errors Wednesday, and these errors proved costly against Memphis.
Friday's game has been set for 4 pm, and Saturday will feature a double header at 11 am and 2:30 pm. The series wraps up Sunday at noon.