01 Apr

hot spots

Opposing pitchers must be hard-pressed to find a soft spot in Delta State’s lineup. Every regular is hitting .300 or better, and collectively the Statesmen are batting .336 with 212 runs in 30 games. Will Robertson, a senior from Falkner who missed 2015 with an injury, has been hot from the jump and is batting .409. Trent Giambroni and Ben Pickard have seven home runs each. DSU also throws out a pair of aces: Left-handers Tre Hobbs and Dalton Moats are a combined 12-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 107 innings. The sum of these parts is also impressive. The Statesmen, unranked in preseason, are now ranked in two NCAA Division II polls, No. 14 in one, 24 in the other. They’ll take a 20-10 overall record and a 13-5 Gulf South Conference mark into this weekend’s series against Christian Brothers at refurbished Ferriss Field. … Cleveland isn’t the only hot spot in the state this weekend. In Hattiesburg, at Wheeler Field, William Carey plays host to NAIA No. 3 Faulkner in a Southern States Athletic Conference series. The Crusaders are 23-11 and coming off what amounted to a batting practice session against Tougaloo on Wednesday. WCU won 18-3 and 16-0; Tyler Richardson had a day, going 4-for-8 with nine RBIs. Things will be a little tougher against Faulkner, which is 29-7, 11-1 SSAC and was ranked No. 1 last week before losses to Georgia-Gwinnett and Bethel. Carey, 7-4 in the league, is 18-5 overall at home. Faulkner is 4-3 on the road. … Of course, the hottest spot in the state this weekend is Starkville. Tonight’s pitching matchup is a dandy: Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson vs. Ole Miss’ Brady Bramlett in the opener of the three-game series at Dudy Noble Field. Strong arms and good hitters abound on these two nationally ranked rivals. State (18-7-1, 4-2 SEC) is hitting .317 as a team, third in the league. Ole Miss (20-5, 2-4) has a 2.73 staff ERA, fourth in the league. The Bulldogs roll out the likes of Jacob Robson and Jack Kruger and Austin Sexton, each of whom has sparkling stats. The Rebels feature Tate Blackman and J.B. Woodman and Wyatt Short, among other stars. But many times the hero in a big series is someone you might not expect. Here’s a couple of candidates: Nathaniel Lowe arrived at State as a touted slugger, coming off a 17-home run season as an NJCAA All-America in 2015. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Lowe is hitting .306 and is third on the team with 22 RBIs, but he has just one long ball. Who better to break out against than Ole Miss? The Rebels, meanwhile, have been waiting for Errol Robinson to break out. A highly rated draft prospect who made some preseason All-America teams, the junior shortstop is batting just .213 with four extra-base hits in 24 games. He batted .297 in 2015, with 31 runs and 30 RBIs in 58 games. Robinson had a big hit in a win against State last year; perhaps he can summon another.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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