Post-season baseball is upon us. This is the week that Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Ole Miss and Delta State head to tournaments. MSU is seeded fourth in the SEC tournament in Hoover while defending tournament champion Ole Miss is going as the No. 7 seed.
Ole Miss was scheduled to play Missouri at 1 p.m. in an elimination game on Tuesday, while MSU will play the LSU-South Carolina winner in the late game on Wednesday night. State and Arkansas finished tied for the SEC Western Division lead while Vanderbilt won the Eastern Division with the best conference record. In trolling the SEC record book, MSU has won three tournament titles and has finished runner-up four times. The Bulldogs last won the tournament in 2012 and won their first in 1979 in Starkville. Ole Miss has won three titles and has finished second twice. The Rebels won the inaugural tournament back in 1977 in Oxford. A Western Division team has won 19 of the last 23 tournaments. In those 23 years, LSU has won seven titles, Alabama five, and MSU three.
The 2019 C Spire Ferris Trophy, which honors the best college baseball player in Mississippi, will be handed out this week by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. One of the finalists was two-time nominee Matt Wallner of Southern Mississippi. Wallner over the weekend became the all-time USM home run career leader as he belted four home runs. He ended the regular season with 19 home runs and now has 54 career round trippers. Jake Mangum was considered the favorite to win the Ferris award for the second year in a row.
Ole Miss softball swept Louisiana on Sunday in the Oxford Regionals to advance to the Super Regionals. The Lady Rebels head to Arizona this weekend. Mississippi State fell to Washington in the Seattle Regionals. State’s Mia Davidson shattered the SEC’s single-season record and school career record as she hit her 26th home run on Saturday.
In my last column, we mentioned that Southaven native Austin Riley was tearing up the International League. Well, guess what? He is now ripping Major League pitchers. In his first four Major League games, the former DeSoto Central star collected eight hits. He is the first Atlanta Brave to achieve those numbers. In his fifth game, he was facing Wheeler native Brandon Woodruff and went hitless with three strikeouts. Riley enters the week with a .421 batting average (8-for-19) with two home runs. Woodruff, a former Biloxi Shucker, is one of the hottest pitchers in the majors as he has recorded a 6-1 pitching mark with the Milwaukee Brewers and is hitting .350. He leads all MLB pitchers with seven hits this season. Richton native JaCoby Jones hit his third home run of the year for Detroit while Hunter Renfroe belted his 11th for the Padres this week.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association crowned six new baseball champions. The North won this year’s battle as Smithville, Calhoun City, North Pontotoc, New Hope and DeSoto won titles. The only South team to win was West Jones, who won their first baseball title. Philadelphia Phillies first base coach Bobby Dickerson, a Laurel native, attended the West Jones 5-A championship win, as his son Dustin led the Mustangs to the win.
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