It’s been a great season for state’s college teams

Published 9:02 am Thursday, June 8, 2017

What a year this has been for college baseball fans in Mississippi. From the smallest of schools to the largest, our often-maligned state has had plenty to be proud about — and it’s not over yet.

At the junior college level, Hinds Community College reached the NJCAA Division II World Series for the second time in four seasons. It was an unexpected run, mostly because the Eagles had to go through another excellent Mississippi team to get there. Jones County Junior College was ranked No. 1 for most of the season and only lost twice in the regular season before losing twice more in the Region 23 tournament.

Among the state’s small colleges, Delta State and William Carey reached the NCAA Division II and NAIA World Series, respectively. DSU has been a mainstay in its division, while William Carey got to its World Series for the first time in 39 years.

And then there were the big boys. Ole Miss flamed out early in the SEC Tournament, but Mississippi State and Southern Miss put on a show.

As fate and the NCAA Tournament selection committee would have it, they were paired up on opposite sides of the bracket in the Hattiesburg Regional. Fans around the state salivated at the thought of them matching up on a big stage.

We had to wait through three days, one rainout and five other games to get there, but the two in-state teams did not disappoint when they finally went head to head.

Throughout Monday evening and into the first hour of Tuesday, Mississippi State won two elimination games. The Bulldogs rallied from a four-run deficit to take the second one and win the program’s 13th regional championship. Southern Miss, a 50-win team and No. 1 seed, saw all its hard work evaporate in one bad night.

That’s the cruel nature of college baseball. One or two bad games can ruin a season, and you never know when they’ll pop up. Have a bad day when someone plays a bit over their head — as happened Monday — and it all crashes down.

That is also what makes the sport so special, though. You never know whose day it will be. Mississippi State will be a heavy underdog when it plays at LSU in a super regional this weekend, but you can’t count them out because, as they say, that’s baseball.

It’s already been a great year for college baseball in Mississippi. It’ll be fun to see if the Bulldogs can keep the magic going.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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