Mississippi: A baseball state
As Mississippians, we often think of ourselves, sports-wise, as a football state. And it’s true, football season, football recruiting and even spring football snare many of the headlines on sports pages across the state.
Given a quick glance at the early Top 25 polls, the attendance at this past weekend’s series and the early results, perhaps we should reconsider. Consider, fans: baseball.
Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss are all ranked in the Top 25 of various polls.
Delta State is ranked No. 1 in Division II.
Let’s take a look at the weekend:
• In a series matching nationally ranked teams, Ole Miss swept three games from TCU at Oxford. This was a TCU team that came in at No. 12 and the team that ended the Rebels’s season in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The three-game series drew 25,026 fans. Many Division I college baseball teams don’t draw that many in an entire season.
• Mississippi State swept four games from Portland to begin the season. The Bulldogs outscored the visitors from the Northwest 31-3.
• Southern Miss swept three straight from Southeastern Conference newcomer Missouri, last year’s Big 12 Conference baseball champions. USM pitching fanned 28 Missouri hitters and walked just eight in 27 innings and posted a 1.33 earned run average for the weekend.
We interrupt this blog for this announcement: Mississippi’s three Top 25 Division I programs outscored their foes 58-13 this weekend, giving up 11 earned runs in 10 games. Paid attendance for those 10 mostly cold-weather games totaled more than 55,000.
• No. 1 ranked Delta State swept three from Nova (Fla.) Southeastern to go to 6-0 on the season. The Statesmen have outscored opponents 63-17 thus far.
Granted the season is early. But prospects are exceedingly bright for a banner college baseball season in the Magnolia State.
We should look at what’s coming up:
• Southern Miss goes to Alabama Tuesday night looking for its fourth straight win over an SEC team. Bama is 3-0. The Golden Eagles will then host Eastern Illinois, Missouri State and Alcorn in the USM Invitational this weekend.
• Mississippi State plays host to Grambling Tuesday before hosting Purdue and Samford for two games each this weekend in The Diamond Classic.
• Ole Miss has home games with Tennessee-Martin Tuesday and then Rhode Island Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
• Delta State will play host to Division I Mississippi Valley State Tuesday afternoon, before hosting perennial Division II powerhouse Florida Southern for a three-game series this weekend.