HOOVER, Ala.—After Wednesday's loss to Florida, a reporter asked Mississippi State coach John Cohen if his team needed to display a sense of urgency in the SEC tournament.
"This is our 56th game," Cohen said, "and I can't think of a game we didn't have a sense of urgency. Thats who we are. We haven't been in the SEC tournament in three years. Urgency—that's my middle name. Yes, there will always be a sense of urgency. At practice there's a sense of urgency."
That answer underscores just how important it was for Mississippi State to get back to the SEC tournament for the first time since 2007—when it went 0-2 but caught fire in the NCAA tournament, reaching Omaha in coach Ron Polk's second-to-last season.
The Bulldogs went 0-2 again in 2011, coughing up a 5-2 lead against the Gators and then getting jumped by Arkansas in Thursday morning's elimination game. The Razorbacks took advantage of two MSU errors and two wild pitches to score four runs in the first and cruised to a 7-2 win.
"If you take that inning aside, we played OK," Cohen said. "The three double plays really hurt us over the course of the game. I thought we came out a little lethargic, but our kids answered that over the last seven or eight innings. I know our kids are disappointed, but I think we're a better team than that.
"It kind of mirrors my experience at Kentucky a little bit: This is the first time any of them have every competed in the SEC tournament, and I think in some ways some of them were trying to do the incredible, the specatcular, instead of making the routine plays."
The Bulldogs did some good things here. They showed off plenty of athleticism. Freshman center fielder C.T. Bradford has the look of a cornerstone player—he's a sparkplug atop the lineup, he runs well, and he made a perfect throw to gun down a runner at third base late in Thursday's game. Nick Vickerson hit balls hard both days, homering and tripling Wednesday and then doubling Thursday. MSU's best player, Jarrod Parks, also busted out of a little slump with two hits Wednesday, while also flashing some impressive defense at the hot corner.
In short, there is plenty to like about the Bulldogs. They'll almost certainly be in a regional, and they could be dangerous if their pitching holds up. That's a big "if," of course, but the Bulldogs will still take their current position over where they were at the end of the last three years.
"It's a process, but I think we're moving in the right direction, and I think we're going to do great things—maybe even a week from now," Cohen said. "Going into this thing, we were 7-3 in the last 10 games, now we're 5-5, but I really believe this group can catch fire, especially where pitching and defense is at a premium in the postseason. I think we have a chance to win games, and I think we have a chance to win a regional."
Comments will be monitored prior to being added to the site. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be rejected. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed.
We have chosen to open up commenting to everyone, so comment away! We want to hear from each and every one of you! Leave a comment.
About This Blog
Syndicate This Blog
Search This Blog