The diamond dogs won two midweek games this week over B1G foe Penn State, but it appears the second win came at a cost.
It was announced today that Sophomore 3B Darryl Norris (knee cap dislocation with associated ligament injury) and Sophomore OF/P CT Bradford (severely separated shoulder) will be out for several weeks at minimum after sustaining injuries in last night's home win against Penn State. Norris is anticipated to be out 4-6 weeks, with Bradford expected to miss 1-2 weeks. In addition to these two considerable injuries, State is also without Senior OF and team captain Brent Brownlee, who today underwent surgery to repair ligament damage in his knee.
So what does this mean for State's season? Well, it could be MUCH worse, as neither Bradford nor Norris are out for the entire season. However, losing Bradford and Norris right before beginning SEC play is a huge loss, especially considering that the dogs start off with a road series versus #13 LSU. Bradford may be back for LSU, depending on how his recovery goes between now and then. People say Bradford is a gamer, and I'm betting the coaches will have a hard time keeping him off the field completely in Baton Rouge.
Bradford is currently tied with Wes Rea for the team lead in RBI's with 13, and Norris is off to a great start as well with a .375 average. As the offense already hasn't exactly been lighting it up against subpar pitching so far, losing two of your four best hitters will certainly be trying on a young bulldog lineup going forth.
So Bradford and Norris will be out and yes we will miss them badly in the lineup until their return, but who will take their place? Just speculation, but I would expect Taylor Stark to move over to CF and for Fr. Brandon Woodruff to go to RF, with Hunter Renfroe in LF.
As for replacing Norris, I anticipate Brayden Jones stepping in to take his place until Norris can return sometime after Super Bulldog Weekend, if recovery goes according to plan.
Before taking on LSU next weekend to open SEC play, State will tangle with Mercer this weekend in its final home games to open the season. Mercer is not a mid-major to be overlooked, and could give State problems with the aforementioned key players being out. It will certainly be interesting to see how the young dogs react over the next several weeks without these three.