STARKVILLE (HailState.com) – Mississippi State was ranked No. 11 in Collegiate Baseball’s 2016 preseason poll, the publication announced Monday.
The Diamond Dawgs are coming off the most impressive summer in school history, where eight of its 16 returning players who competed in summer league action earned all-star honors in their respective leagues. The seven returning Bulldog pitchers competing this summer combined to record a 2.21 ERA in 252 2/3 innings of work. The 10 returning hitters totaled a .311 batting average at the plate, tallying 360 hits in 1,161 at-bats.
State is led on the mound by junior Dakota Hudson, a consensus top-50 prospect for the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. The right hander recorded a 1.43 ERA in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League this past summer, earning a spot on the CCBL Year-End All-League Team. The Dunlap, Tennessee, native is one of 21 pitchers on the spring roster who touched 90 mph on the radar gun in scrimmages this past fall.
Joining Hudson as part of the school-record eight Bulldogs who played in the CCBL this past summer was junior outfielder Jacob Robson. The preseason All-American candidate started the 2015 CCBL All-Star Game and finished the CCBL regular season with a .318 batting average. Robson finished in the top-10 in the Southeastern Conference last season in stolen bases (21) and on-base percentage (.436), while leading the team in batting average (.324), runs scored (41), hits (60), at-bats (185) and multi-hit games (18).
Defensively, the Bulldogs are anchored by middle infielders John Holland and Ryan Gridley. This past spring, Holland shattered the school record for the highest fielding percentage by a second baseman, posting a .992 clip with just two errors in 256 chances. Gridley earned All-SEC Freshman honors at shortstop, and along with Holland helped MSU maintain its lead as the school with the most double plays turned nationally since 2012 (264). The last two seasons, head coach John Cohen’s club has tallied the fourth-highest combined fielding percentage in the country (.979).
Opening Day for MSU at Dudy Noble Field is Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, where first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT against Florida Atlantic. For more information on preseason practice in January, follow the program on Twitter, like them on Facebook and join them on Instagram by searching for “HailStateBB.” You can also find all-access coverage of the program on SnapChat by searching for “HailStateSnap.”
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