College Podcast: Mississippi State's Chris Lemonis On National Title
On this episode of the Baseball America College Podcast, presented by Rapsodo, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined by Mississippi State coach Chris Lemonis to look back on his team's national title in 2021, discuss the performances that made lifting the trophy possible and take a peek ahead at fall practice, which is just around the corner.
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As is often the case with teams coming off of national titles, there are some pieces to replace at MSU, most notably righthander Will Bednar and lineup stalwarts Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan. With what the Bulldogs have returning, however, you also have to consider them among the favorites to end up right back in Omaha next season with a chance to repeat.
Among the topics discussed at length in the episode are:
- Lemonis' thoughts on the celebrations that have gone on around the state since winning the national title
- The fast pace of the summer that has made it such that he and his staff have had very little time together since the season ended
- The performance of Will Bednar during the College World Series, which goes down as one of the greatest pitching runs anyone has had in Omaha
- Expectations for fall practice and beginning to fill the holes on the roster of those players who departed
- Landon Sims' outstanding season as the team's closer and his transition to a spot in the weekend rotation in 2022
- The solid position player core that returns for next season, plus the addition of a couple of talented grad transfers
- What makes catcher Logan Tanner such a special defensive player that you might not be able to see with the naked eye
- Ron Polk's contributions to the foundations of MSU baseball and what it's like to have him as a neighbor
- What about Mississippi State makes it to where the program develops players that become cult heroes locally like Jake Mangum and Tanner Allen
Additionally, Teddy and Joe discuss the news that the Pac-12 will hold its first conference tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz. in 2022. Traditionally the best conference to award its automatic bid to the conference regular-season champion, the Pac-12 adding a conference tournament was in the works for 2021, but the pandemic forced its debut to hold off for another year.
Having a conference tournament isn't guaranteed to deliver more Pac-12 teams to the NCAA Tournament or elevate more teams to host status, but it should certainly help, and with Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon State all likely to bring plenty of fans to the event, it should be a good showcase for the conference if nothing else.