With its home field still covered in dust from construction, the Mississippi State baseball team is headed down through Louisiana and across the Lone Star state to play eight different teams in four different cities in a span of only 10 days. After playing in Jackson, Mississippi last night, the Bulldogs are headed down to Corpus Christi, Texas to play in the Kleberg Bank College Classic with UC Santa Barbara, Nicholls State, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Here’s what that 9 hour and 35 minute drive (without traffic calculated in) looks like on a map:
From Corpus, the Bulldogs will head further south towards the border. After playing in Whataburger Field (unrelated but Whataburger is better than your favorite fast food joint), Mississippi State will scoot on over to Edinburg, Texas for a game against Texas Rio Grande Valley.
After that, Mississippi State heads back across Texas and into Louisiana for a game against McNeese State. That’s going from the southern border of Texas, along the gulf of Mexico, and back into Louisiana to play in Lake Charles.
From there, MSU heads to Houston to play in the home of the defending World Series champs, Minute Maid Park, to compete in the Shriner’s College Classic. While in the Bayou City, Mississippi State will meet up with University of Louisiana Lafayette, the University of Houston, and Sam Houston State.
Gary Henderson is leading his team on a 10 day trek where his team will play 8 different opponents while traveling over 1400 miles, most of which are coming while playing in Texas. Mississippi State’s journey certainly won’t be the easiest stretch in the world, but it’ll give the Bulldogs an opportunity to gain some confidence building wins against several inferior opponents with a few tough challenges tucked in there.
Their time in Corpus Christi shouldn’t be too rough. A year ago, the three opponents MSU will face here went a combined 75-91. Of those 75 wins that Nicholls State, A&M-Corpus Christi, and UC Santa Barbara combined for, 49 of them came when they played on their home fields. Only 26 came from road or neutral site games.
Mississippi State’s opponents in Edinburg, Texas, the Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, are 4-1 on the year, but their wins have come against Central Michigan and Stephen F. Austin State, neither of whom currently appear to be baseball powerhouses this season.
When the Bulldogs get to Lake Charles, Louisiana, they’ll be facing a team that had a stellar season in 2017, going 37-20. McNeese State was very good at home, going 22-5 on their own turf. However, the Cowboys are currently 0-4 on the season after getting swept by Wichita State and dropping a game to Louisiana Tech. Like Mississippi State, McNeese State is also taking a trip through Texas, albeit theirs is a lot shorter. Before hosting the Bulldogs, the Cowboys will have a series with Texas State in San Marcos.
Once Mississippi State makes it into Houston, they’ll find a Louisiana Lafayette team that went 35-21-1 a season ago and opened this season by taking a win away from #14 Texas in Austin. After losing the series to UT, the Ragin Cajuns dropped a game to Southeastern Louisiana. Between now and their matchup with MSU, Louisiana Lafayette will play Wright State in a series and Nicholls State in a midweek game.
Also in Minute Maid Park, the Bulldogs will find the University of Houston Cougars, who will likely be the best team that Mississippi State will face on this trip. UH is currently ranked #24 by the NCAA and had a ton of success a season ago. The Coogs went 42-21 a season ago with their season coming to an end in the Houston Regional last season.
The final game of this road trip will be against Sam Houston State. The Bearkats from Huntsville, Texas are 2-1 on the season after taking a series away from Kent State. SHSU fielded a team that made it all the way to the Tallahassee Super Regionals a season ago where they ultimately ran out of gas.
Should the Bulldogs come out of this trip with two or fewer losses during the stretch, it should be considered a success. Mississippi State will encounter quite a few different teams of varying skill levels across Texas, but it’ll give them an opportunity to build momentum after a terrible start in Hattiesburg. Mississippi State will be traveling quite a bit, but once they return home, hopefully they’ll be met with a baseball park that’s much closer to being finished and a friendly home atmosphere to play in.