Mississippi State Baseball Adds Another Top 10 Preseason Rankings
STARKVILLE – The Mississippi State baseball program is now 3-for-3 on the preseason rankings front, as D1Baseball has tabbed the program as the No. 7 team in the country entering the 2021 campaign. State now owns top 15 rankings from each of the three publications that have announced a preseason poll for the upcoming season.
Keep up with all of the preseason news, notes, rankings and awards at the 2021 Diamond Dawgs Preseason Central.
While D1Baseball has been around since 2003 as a one-stop-shop for scores and standings, the site began its dedicated coverage of college baseball in 2015. That season the site announced its first preseason poll and State has found itself among the top 25 in five of its seven preseason rankings.
The 2021 ranking is the highest for the Dawgs by the publication and marks the fourth straight season MSU will begin the year among the preseason top 25 per D1Baseball, with each of those a top 15 ranking.
The poll includes eight other SEC teams, led by preseason No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Ole Miss and No. 8 Arkansas, giving the conference five of the top 10 teams entering the season. LSU (No. 12), South Carolina (No. 18), Tennessee (No. 19) and Auburn (No. 22) give the SEC nine of the top 25 teams, the most among any conference in college baseball. The ACC (7) and Big 12 (5) are next among the conferences in total teams ranked.
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.
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.