/College baseball begins Friday with high expectations

College baseball begins Friday with high expectations

The home weekend series will begin Friday for the defending national champion Mississippi State, perennial NCAA Tournament participant Southern Miss, and NCAA regional champ Ole Miss. Expectations are high, to put it mildly. Mississippi State was ranked high in preseason polls, including No. 4 by D1Baseball will host Long Beach State, the West Coast’s top-ranked baseball powerhouse. 24 were also ranked in the same poll. The Bulldogs, Dirtbags and other teams will be playing single games at 2 pm on Friday, 2 pm Saturday, and 1 pm Sunday. Charleston Southern (18-26 in last season’s Big South Conference) will be visiting Oxford for single games Friday (4:00 p.m.), Saturday (2:00 p.m.), and Sunday (22:30 p.m.). Southern Miss will face North Alabama (7-40 in 2021) at Hattiesburg for single games on Friday (4 p.m.), Saturday (2. p.m., and Sunday (1. p.m.). State’s All American closer Landon Sims was the final out of the 2021 college baseball season. He won the Bulldogs’ 9-1 victory over Vanderbilt at the College World Series in Omaha. State’s 2022 season begins with Sims at Dudy Noble. He will be shifting from lock-down to Friday night starter. Sims will take over the role of front-line starter from All American Will Bednar, who Sims saved so many of his victories last year. The Bulldogs will face a tough opponent. Long Beach has one of the best closers in the country and won 15 of 17 of its last 17 games. Sophomore Devereaux Henry Harrison had a record of 3-1 and a team record of 10 saves. In 34 innings, he struck out 42 batters and opponents hit him just.175 Ole Miss has its entire lineup back at Oxford. This is a team that hit just.288 and had 85 home runs over 67 games. Jacob Gonzalez, shortstop, was a Rebel returning player. He hit a team-leading.355 with 12 homers and 55 RBI. First baseman Tim Elko is also back, who was almost legendary in Ole Miss baseball annals when he suffered a torn ACL for the last two months and still led the team’s scoring with 16 home runs. Kevin Graham (.342, 14, HR, 54 RBI), also returns. Marc MacMillan (ex-Ole Miss player, 14 HR, 54 RBI) returns to Charleston Southern as the head coach. Southern Miss will need to replace Hunter Stanley and Walker Powell, who were the most productive starting pitchers in school’s history — as well as Ryan Och, left-handed relief ace. Scott Berry brings back a strong pitching staff and most of the batting lineup, which hit.275 with an impressive 83 home run total to help the Golden Eagles finish 2nd in the Oxford Regional. Southern Miss will compete in Conference USA’s final season and the Eagles are the preseason pick of the coaches to win the league.