The Mississippi State Diamond Dawgs completed a season that will not soon be forgotten. One thing many fans wonder is how this team, which struggled so badly for the first half of the season, became one of the best teams in the country down the stretch. Could it have been all the adversity the teamed faced from the start?
To show the full picture of this debacle we have to go back to the beginning of fall training where the bulldogs could not practice on their home field due to the new stadium construction. Instead they had to travel to Jackson Mississippi to conduct scrimmages against one another. In past seasons there would have many more opportunities for the Bulldogs to scrimmage and face live pitching to get their bats going, but not this season. In return, the pitchers did not have many opportunities to get quality time on the mound prior to the first series against Southern Miss, which led to three straight losses to the Golden Eagles.
The very next day, Golden Boy Andy Cannizaro resigns as head coach and too this point, I don’t believe a full explanation has been giving surrounding the reason for this abrupt resignation. Most state fans have heard the rumors so we will just leave it at that. Next, throw in an intern head coach (Gary Henderson), twelve straight road games and three SEC series losses.
At this point in the season the Bulldogs were setting 14-15 on the season with a 2-7 record in the SEC. This was very disturbing for the Bulldogs who were picked as a regional hopeful and possible Omaha contender.
Up next was rival Ole Miss which was ranked 3rd in the country at the time. I believe it was at this point in the season that the players had to decide which way they were going to let their adversity decide the 2018 season.
Adversity can do one of two things, tear things apart or make them stronger. In this case everything that was going wrong with the stadium, coaches, lack of scrimmages, all of the noise surrounding the program were completely out of the player’s control. So in simple terms the players basically turned off the distractions and focused on playing baseball.
All of a sudden the Bulldogs became almost unbeatable by winning four of their last seven series in the SEC, to include sweeps of Arkansas and Florida and taking three games out of four from TSUN, all ranked top five programs in the country.
When a group or team can take adversity and a situation totally out of their control and use it as a form of motivation, it shows the maturity, discipline and character of the team.
Going into the 2019 season these players will not forget the hardship they faced this season and that bond will continue to motivate each and every player going forward. Whether it is the never quit attitude, the Banana rallies to come, or the focus to win a national championship the bulldog baseball team understands the strength of a unified team which will make them dangerous in 2019.