April 18, 2012

Bulldogs look to get back on track

Mississippi State is currently on the outside looking in to advance to the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 5-10 league mark.

The Bulldogs have five weekends left to get back on track but first they have to get healthy. First up on the comeback trail is a home series with Tennessee to kickoff Super Bulldog Weekend.

"We certainly need to play well but there are still plenty of opportunities in those 15 games for us to do what we need to," said MSU skipper John Cohen. "It's just little things like evaluating pitches better and being mentally tougher with these injuries. We're a beaten up club and if you have real mental toughness you can overcome that. It's not life or death this weekend but you certainly make things difficult for you down the stretch if you don't play well this weekend."

The Volunteers enter the series that starts Thursday night with a 7-8 record in conference play and are 22-15 overall. Tennessee has dropped back-to-back SEC series to South Carolina and Florida and are also looking to get back on track.

"Tennessee is a really improved club," Cohen said. "I think they are like a lot of clubs in the SEC and have had their ups and downs this year. We're really thrilled to be able to play them at home and hopefully in front of a good crowd. I know our players always get excited about Super Bulldog Weekend and hopefully we can have a whole bunch of people show up on Thursday night."

The Diamond Dogs will again send out SEC strikeouts leader Chris Stratton to the mound to start game one of the series. The junior right-hander is 7-0 this season with a 2.98 ERA, 78 strikeouts and 16 walks. Junior righty Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.25 ERA, 34 K, 15 BB) will be called upon to make Friday's start while leaving game three's starting slot open for now.



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