Mississippi State Re-establishes IdentityColumns
HOUSTON — Mississippi State has never been more ready to head home.
That was evident Sunday night immediately following the Bulldogs’ 4-1 win over Sam Houston State to culminate an outstanding weekend at the Shriners College Classic that ended with a 3-0 record, and wins over Houston and Louisiana in addition to the Bearkats in the finale.
The Bulldogs looked elated, yet relieved, following the victory. After exchanging high fives and pleasantries on the pitcher’s mound, interim head coach Gary Henderson huddled the team together and yelled out “Let’s go home!”. His boisterous statement was followed by plenty of smiles and cheers from the MSU players, who will now head home for the first time since Andy Cannizaro resigned as head coach following the season-opening series at Southern Mississippi.
It just so happens that MSU’s players will return home to open a brand new stadium on Tuesday against New Mexico State.
Perfect timing, considering everything this program has been through over the last two weeks, right?
“It’s been really tough [being on the road] and today, you really had to dig deep to get some energy. We’ve spent about 30 hours total on the bus, not including plane rides, since we started this road trip. Now it’s finally starting to click,” MSU star outfielder Jake Mangum said. “We’re 100 percent behind [Coach] Henderson, [Coach] Gautreau and our other coaches. What they’ve done with this club, it’s awesome. This team has really been grinding and we’ve had some adversity the first three weeks of the season. But we’ve responded extremely well and now we get to go back home for a long stretch. It’s well needed and we look forward to seeing a lot of energy there on Tuesday night. We can’t wait.”
In most adverse situations, individuals have at least some time to process things. But the Bulldogs were limited in that. When Cannizaro resigned his post with the Bulldogs the Tuesday morning after the season-opening series, and the Bulldogs were on the road at Jackson State a day later, player’s minds still fuzzy from the dramatic situation at hand.
MSU went to Corpus Christi, Texas, a few days later and went 2-1 in tournament action with wins over UC Santa Barbara and Nicholls State, before making the drive down to the Rio Grande Valley for a Monday contest. The only problem? That contest was fogged out after just a few innings, so the Bulldogs got right back on the bus and made the 480-mile haul to Lake Charles, La, to face gritty McNeese State. MSU lost that game.
The Bulldogs were tired of being on the road at that point. They were tired of being away from home, period, especially considering the circumstances surrounding the program back home.