It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, or the beginning of college baseball, which is basically the same thing to those of us who have been longing since last March. With football winding down and schedules released, it is officially time to turn our eyes toward the diamond. Mississippi State enters the 2021 season with high hopes after finishing the abbreviated 2020 season with a 2-game sweep of, then number 2, Texas Tech. With a lethal armada on the mound, and a lineup that mixes proven experience with exciting young talent, the Diamond Dawgs are looking to make it 3 straight trips to “Somewhere in Middle America” (That’s Omaha for those of you not familiar with the Counting Crows jam).
Beginning on the mound, Mississippi State enters the 2021 campaign with, quite arguably, one of the best weekend rotations in the country. Friday nights will see the Bulldogs send fire balling junior Christian MacLeod to the mound. The lefty from Huntsville, AL had a fantastic start to the 2020 season taking over the Friday starter role for injured ace JT Ginn. 2020 saw MacLeod garner numerous postseason awards. He was named co-freshman of the year, as well as third team All-American and freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. MacLeod also became just the third Bulldog freshman to accumulate multiple double digit strikeout games, joining Bulldog greats Paul Maholm and Eric DuBose. The Diamond Dawgs will round out the weekend with Valencia, PA native sophomore Will Bednar and Oakville, Ontario, Canada junior Eric Cerantola. The Bulldog bullpen will be anchored by senior relievers Spencer Price and Riley Self. Underclassmen KC Hunt and Houston Harding add to an already exciting stable of hurlers. All in all, the arms in Starkville look to be locked and loaded for a run to Omaha.
The Diamond Dawg lineup brings a fair mixture of proven veterans and exciting youngsters that should be a headache to opposing pitchers. Beginning in the infield, first base should be held down by veteran Josh Hatcher. The senior from Albany, GA looks to continue being a power bat and a strong defensive presence at first. The rest of the infield looks to be up for grabs with a mixture of young talent and reliable veterans. Young guns Kamren James and Kellum Clark both have the chance to give the Bulldogs a very young and very lethal left side of the infield. Clark comes in as a very highly touted freshman from Brandon, MS, while James, a Southaven, MS native, had begun making a name for himself before the 2020 season was cut short. Second base looks to be an open race with Landon Jordan, Tanner Leggett, and Scotty Dubrule all battling for the position. Dubrule, a graduate transfer from Jacksonville University comes to Starkville after a solid career for the Dolphins that saw him hit .350 in 2019 and .420 before the 2020 season was called off. Dubrule is second nationally in hits among active players and could definitely make the case to be the Bulldogs second baseman and possible leadoff hitter. Logan Tanner looks to be a lock behind the dish. The power hitting sophomore from Lucedale, MS was on a tear last year, hitting 2 home runs and ending the abbreviated campaign on a 3-game hit streak. The Bulldog outfield looks to be anchored by a pair of veterans, senior center fielder Rowdey Jordan and senior right fielder Tanner Allen. The pair of Alabama natives are no stranger to Dudy Noble field or the friendly confines of TD Ameritrade Park. Jordan’s blazing speed and power arm along with Allen’s hot bat make them a deadly duo in the outfield. Left field is less concrete, with junior Brandon Pimentel taking most of the playing time in 2020. Junior Brad “Mule” Cumbest, also a tight end on Mike Leach’s football team, made 3 starts in left field and is also a viable option in 2021.
The 2021 schedule sees the Diamond Dawgs open with a 3-game tilt in the Lone Star state at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, TX. The Bulldogs open on Friday, February 19th against ace Ty Madden and a very talented University of Texas squad. The Bulldogs play TCU on Saturday and close the weekend on Sunday in what could be a revenge game for Tim Tadlock and his Texas Tech ballclub that suffered back-to-back losses to the Diamond Dawgs to close the 2020 season. The Bulldogs’ non-conference schedule includes tilts with NCAA postseason regulars Tennessee Tech, Louisiana, Tulane, and Southern Miss. SEC play opens with a trip to Alex Box stadium to take on the LSU Fightin’ Tigers. The conference schedule also includes homestands against Arkansas, Kentucky, and in-state rival Ole Miss and road trips to Auburn, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt among other conference matchups.
The upside is high for the Mississippi State baseball team, and the goal this year is Omaha or bust!!
Full schedule can be found here: