Mississippi State took their 2019 season to Omaha a year ago. The Bulldogs didn’t lose a postseason game until their second game in Omaha to eventual National Champions Vanderbilt. They’ll have very good chances to make it back to the College World Series this season.
2019 Record: 52-15 (20-10)
Postseason: 1-2 in College World Series
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 9th
2020 Prediction: 2nd in the West
The 2019 season was another one for the record books. Mississippi State won the most games in a single season since the 1989 season. They also went to the College World Series in back-to-back years.
The Bulldogs began the season 16-1 heading into conference play. Their 20-10 finish in the SEC was good to tie for first place with Arkansas in the West. They went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament before cruising through the regional and super regional en route to Omaha.
Notable Non-Conference Games
February 14-16: Wright State 42-17, 87 RPI
February 21-23: Oregon State 36-20-1, 20 RPI
March 4: Southern Miss 40-21, 45 RPI
March 10-11: No.6 Texas Tech 46-20, 11 RPI
April 21: No.25 Ole Miss 41-27, 22 RPI
Mississippi State has loaded up their nonconference slate. They’ll start the season with Wright State, a respectable opponent that will help them see where they need to adjust. They’ll follow up with an Oregon State who last left the field going 0-2 in their own regional last season.
Southern Miss in the midweek is always a good rivalry. The Golden Eagles took just one game in their three-game series in 2019.
Texas Tech is a huge midweek series in the middle of March. The Red Raiders swept their own regional last year before winning the Super Regional against Oklahoma State. They went 2-2 in Omaha and are expected to be just as dominant again this year.
The last nonconference game comes in the Governor’s Cup against in-state rival Ole Miss in a game that doesn’t count towards SEC records. The Bulldogs swept the Rebels last season 4-0 and have won the previous four Governor’s Cups.
SEC East Opponents
March 27-29: Kentucky
April 16-18: @ South Carolina
May 8-10: Missouri
May 14-16: @ No.2 Vanderbilt
Not Playing: No.4 Florida, No.5 Georgia, Tennessee
The Bulldogs pulled three of the four unranked teams of the East. This will help them make headway in the SEC West race. Kentucky, South Carolina and Missouri should all be series wins and it’s not unlikely that one may result in a sweep.
The Vanderbilt series should be a gritty one. The Bulldogs will close out the season in Nashville taking on the Commodores. In 2019 MSU went 0-2 against Vanderbilt. The first loss booted them from the SEC Tournament. The next loss was the Bulldogs first loss in Omaha.
RHP JT Ginn: 8-4, 3.13 ERA
LHP Christian MacLeod: RS Freshman (injured)
RHP Eric Cerantola: 3-0, 4.30 ERA
The Bulldogs have to replace two key starters from a year ago including one of the nation’s best in Ethan Small as well as veteran Peyton Plumlee.
Small’s replacement is ready to go. JT Ginn had an electric freshman season and lived up to his hype in 2019. Ginn got better and better as the season went on. He finished the season with two scoreless outings in the playoffs, including six scoreless innings against Louisville in the College World Series.
MacLeod and Cerantola are two capable rotation guys who are largely unproven in their careers. MacLeod was sidelined in 2019 due to illness, but head coach Chris Lemonis says he could have competed with JT Ginn for the Saturday spot.
Cerantola is also fairly green in his own experience. He pitched just 14.2 innings in 2019 and had four starts. He can hit 95mph with his fastball but struggles with control at times. He should be a solid Sunday option.
Mississippi State has big shoes to fill with having to replace Bulldog legend Jake Mangum along with Elijah MacNamee and Dustin Skelton. As bad as that may sound, the Bulldogs are perfectly capable of doing just that and more.
Mississippi State had one of the best offenses in 2019, leading the SEC in batting average and second in the league in on-base percentage, hits and runs scored. The Bulldogs have five Preseason All-SEC bats in their 2020 lineup.
Second baseman Justin Foscue leads the way. The Huntsville, Alabama native has the second-highest batting average of returning players with a .331/.395/.564 slash. He led the team last year with 14 home runs.
Outfielder Tanner Allen is another preseason All-SEC player. The lefty leads all returners in batting average as well as runs brought in with 66. He only had seven home runs but should be able to turn some of his 23 doubles into home runs this season.
Mississippi State looks locked and loaded for 2020. The offense is as powerful as it ever has been, bringing back what may be the most lethal lineup in the SEC. There’s hardly an easy part of the lineup for opposing pitchers.
The pitching rotation will be the biggest question. JT Ginn should be as solid as any Friday night ace. The two young pitchers will need to make the jump and solidify themselves in the Saturday and Sunday spot. Even if they can’t, the Bulldog bats might be enough to pull them through regardless.
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