NCAA Division I schools in Mississippi have not yet started playing ball, but we already have a theme for 2021. Pitching. The state’s Big 3 are loaded with quality arms, and Jackson State has a couple to crow about, as well. Ole Miss’ Gunnar Hoglund and Doug Nikhazy and Mississippi State’s Christian MacLeod, Eric Cerantola and Will Bednar are showing up on various lists of top MLB draft prospects for this summer. Hoglund, Nikhazy and MacLeod are on the 55-player Golden Spikes Award watch list. Hoglund has been selected to — at last count — four preseason All-America teams. Nikhazy, MacLeod and Southern Miss ace Walker Powell were pegged as second-team All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball, and Powell is the preseason pitcher of the year in C-USA. JSU features Nik Galatas, chosen as the SWAC’s preseason pitcher of the year, and Steven Davila, a top closer in the league. The considerable depth of the Ole Miss and State staffs will be tested right out of the chute this weekend in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas, where they’ll face three nationally ranked Texas schools. USM opens at home Sunday with a doubleheader against Northwestern State; JSU is at Mercer in Georgia for a twinbill today. Defense wins championships in football. In basketball, shooting. In baseball, it’s pitching. Mississippi’s D-I schools are armed for the task.