STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — Mississippi State’s Road to Omaha begins in Starkville for the first time since 2016 and one of the most experienced teams in the postseason looks to defend home-turf.
Head Coach Chris Lemonis said Thursday the team spoke about what experience means for the tournament and that his team welcomes the journey.
“Usually in any postseason run, you fall behind,” Lemonis said. “You know, there’s games you have to fight back, and you can’t lose your cool I guess you could say in those moments. You know, that group in there laughed because they really had to fight last year.”
For the players, it’s time to lock in.
“You come to Mississippi State for the big stage,” senior center fielder Jake Mangum said. “For postseason baseball. You don’t come here to not make it to Hoover, play in Hoover and be done. You come here to play postseason baseball and that chance to get to Omaha.”
“The postseason is the real season,” senior RHP Jared Liebelt said. “It’s the biggest part of the year. I feel like proving yourself truly can’t be done until you do something in the postseason.”
As for the rest of the Starkville Regional, each team knows they’re in the tournament for a reason.
“I don’t recall any NCAA tournament I’ve ever walked away from saying geez that team wasn’t very good,” Miami head baseball coach Gino DiMare said. “I don’t care if you’re a four seed or a one seed, some are better than others, I get it. But either you had a great season if you’re in this position right now, or you’re very very hot.”
“You can play spoiler because no one is expecting you to do anything other than that. So now, we’re coming into this regional, we have good offensive numbers, people are starting to take notice into what we’re doing, but at the end of the day, we’re still the underdogs,” Southern University head baseball coach Kerrick Jackson said. “They’re going to carry that with them always, and hopefully put us in a position to go out and do something that’s not been done before.”
“We don’t quite have the same stadium in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, we have a really nice setup but when we won our conference championship in the regular season, the place was packed with 5 to 6 hundred people, which was an awesome environment,” Central Michigan head baseball coach Jordan Bischel said. “I’ve been told they should draw a little bit more than that. We’re going to go from soaking up atmosphere to try and enjoy it and win some ball games, find that balance.”
For the Bulldogs, it’ll be freshman phenom JT Ginn on the mound Friday against Southern.
As for Elijah MacNamee, head coach Lemonis says Mac’s progress was better than expected, but to what capacity he’ll play is still in question.