STARKVILLE - #1 seed Mississippi State opens the NCAA baseball tournament as the #6 seed overall. The Bulldogs are looking to get back to Omaha for the second straight year. The next step on that quest will take place on Friday as State takes on #4 seed and SWAC champion Southern University.
Coach Chris Lemonis shared ealier today that freshman star JT Ginn will toe the rubber for the Bulldogs in the Friday meeting against the Jaguars and that ace Ethan Small will be on the mound this Saturday no matter the opponent.
Southern is expected to start Eli Finney, a junior college transfer, who has a win over LSU under his belt. First pitch is set for noon at Dudy Noble Field.
All-American Jake Mangum and reliable reliever Jared Liebelt represented the players today during today's media briefing. It is clear that there is a post season feel to Dudy Noble field. Mangum shared that just being back in the Griffis Ball Room reminded him of the 2016 Super Regional post game press conference.
Mangum and the rest of the Bulldogs are hopeful that the results are a little more pleasing this go around. Mangum will be taking part in his fourth straight NCAA post season. The previous three featured a Super Regional experience with last season ending in Omaha a game short of the NCAA college world series final.
Heading into the 2019 season, expectations where high for Mississippi State. The Diamond Dawgs have lived up most of them including earning the program's second ever top eight national seed. Should the Bulldogs continue winning, the next road game will come in Omaha.
As the process moves forward, State has some work to do. The NCAA regional field of Starkville features two conference champions in Central Michigan and Southern and one of the tournament's strongest two seeds in Miami. The Bulldogs simply cannot look ahead to next weekend or dreams of Nebraska. All of the work that preceded the selection show was to bring the Bulldogs to this point, home. The Bulldogs have the home field advantage and an inside track to the College World Series, but it simply will not be easy.
Every team in this tournament won their way in. There are no easy outs in NCAA regional play. Every opponent is worthy of respect and is capable of winning on any given day.
Mississippi State put together a magical run last season as the lovable underdogs. This year, Mississippi State was expected to be a top eight national seed. That goal was simply means to a larger end and that is a run at a national title. It all gets underway on Friday as the post season is finally here.