Mississippi State hires new pitching coach

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2023

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State is turning to a Southeastern Conference rival to help solve its pitching problems.

The school announced Monday that it has hired Justin Parker as its new pitching coach. Parker spent the past two seasons at South Carolina, and prior to that was at Indiana for three years.

“I want to thank Coach Lemonis for this incredible opportunity to join an amazing staff and a program with a storied tradition,” Parker said in a statement. “Coach Lemonis and I share many of the same coaching philosophies, and I’m excited to begin this next chapter of my coaching career with this storied program.”

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South Carolina ranked second in the SEC in team earned run average this season, and allowed the second-fewest walks in the conference. Its 608 strikeouts ranked No. 17 in NCAA Division I. The Gamecocks finished 42-21 and reached the super regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

Parker is widely regarded for producing top-quality arms that are selected in the MLB Draft. Nine of the 20 pitchers drafted under his watch have gone in the first 10 rounds.

Mississippi State was last in the 14-team SEC in team ERA and walks this season, and 13th in home runs allowed. The Bulldogs’ woes led to the midseason firing of pitching coach Scott Foxhall, and the team failed to qualify for the SEC Tournament for the second year in a row. Mississippi State has a 53-56 record since winning the national championship in 2021.

“Justin is one of the top pitching coaches in the country and is on the rise in the coaching ranks of college baseball,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis said in a statement. “He is a terrific baseball talent, and an incredible vision for what he wants to do on the mound and defensively here at Mississippi State. Justin is a huge asset for the Diamond Dawgs, and we are excited to welcome him and his family to Starkville.”

South Carolina moved quickly to find Parker’s replacement. It announced Tuesday that it has hired Matt Williams, formerly of Liberty, as its next pitching coach.