Mississippi State Baseball Tabbed Top 10 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s Preseason Rankings
Published 8:10 am Tuesday, December 22, 2020
STARKVILLE – For the first time since at least 1998, the Mississippi State baseball program will begin back-to-back seasons ranked among the top 10 nationally in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason poll, as the Bulldogs enter 2021 ranked as the No. 9 program in the publications preseason poll.
Collegiate Baseball released the preseason poll on Monday (Dec. 21), which features eight Southeastern Conference teams among its top 25. Joining Mississippi State is Florida (1), Vanderbilt (2), Ole Miss (5), LSU (7) Georgia (12), South Carolina (21) and Arkansas (22).
The 2020 season featured a 12-4 record prior to the abrupt end due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a pair victories over No. 2 Texas A&M, along with two wins over perineal power Oregon State at Dudy Noble Field. The Diamond Dawgs ended 2020 ranked No. 6 nationally per Collegiate Baseball.
Head coach Chris Lemonis enters his third season after posting the most victories (52) by a first-year SEC head coach in the conference’s history during the 2019 season. State has finished among the top-10 nationally in each of his first two seasons, along with a top-10 showing in the final 2018 poll, to mark the first time in program history MSU finished three straight seasons among the 10 best teams in college baseball.
The 2021 roster features a mix of experienced returners and a talented crop of newcomers. The junior trio of Tanner Allen, Josh Hatcher and Rowdey Jordan will look to lead the MSU offense, while second-year freshmen Kamren James and Logan Tanner look to build off of successful first seasons in the maroon and white. Graduate transfer Scotty Dubrule joins the program after four record-setting seasons at Jacksonville, entering the season among the top active hitters in the NCAA in hits (249), games played (197) and runs scored (138).
On the mound, graduates Spencer Price and Riley Self, along with second-year freshman Landon Sims will anchor the bullpen behind what is projected to be a stacked starting rotation. The trio of Will Bednar, Eric Cerantola and Christian MacLeod are each ranked among the nation’s top 50 draft prospects, and junior Houston Hardingemerged as a solid starting option on the mound at the end of the 2020 campaign.
The 2020 and 2019 campaigns ended with MSU pitcher earning National Freshman of the Year accolades, as JT Ginn and MacLeod each brought home the honor from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The Diamond Dawgs are coming off of back-to-back trips to the College World Series in 2018 and 2019 and a share of the 2019 SEC West Division crown.