Omaha is very familiar to MSU’s Polk|[06/11/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 11, 2007

STARKVILLE – The Mississippi State Bulldogs took Sunday off from baseball. Coach Ron Polk gave his team a day to bask in a Super Regional victory and to get their minds focused on Friday.

None of the players have ever been to Omaha, Neb., as a player in the College World Series, but that certainly will change Friday when MSU takes on North Carolina in the CWS.

Polk is 1-4 all-time against the Tar Heels.

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&#8220I just want to make sure these guys know that we aren’t done yet and that we are prepared to compete for a national championship,” Polk said.

Polk knows well what his team is in store for. The veteran skipper has been to a College World Series at least once in each of the last five decades. He was a member of the staff at the University of Arizona in 1966, his first trip to Omaha.

He then went in 1973 as head coach of Georgia Southern before guiding Mississippi State to six CWS appearances. During a two-year stint at the University of Georgia – Polk was at the Athens school in 2000 and 2001 – the Bulldogs made one appearance.

&#8220It’s great that he has been there so many times. He’s a real even-keel guy he never gets us too high or too low,” senior Jeffrey Rea said.

Mississippi State is scheduled to play on Friday in the eight team, double-elimination tournament. It will mark the first time MSU has been to the CWS since back-to-back appearances in 1997 and 1998.

The results, though, have been less than rosy in Omaha.

Polk is a combined 7-14 as a head coach at the CWS. The 1985 MSU team that featured Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Thigpen was the only one to win two games at the CWS.

It even caused one player to quip during postgame interviews that this year’s team wanted to be the first to get Polk a win in Omaha.

A CWS championship would be the culmination of nearly 30 years as a college head coach for Polk. He has won more than 1,350 games and is currently seventh all-time in victories in the NCAA record books.

&#8220Ron Polk has been a great teacher of the game, he respects his opponents and fights for the game,” said Clemson coach Jack Leggett, who lost to Polk in two straight games during the Super Regionals. &#8220He digs his heels in when he has to, but his message is always right.

&#8220He has a great program and a great fan base. This is my fifth time here and not much has changed. He has a great program here.”