BULL­DOGS

Starkville Daily News - - SCORE­CARD -

cord and 2-7 mark in South­east­ern Con­fer­ence play.

Sud­denly though, MSU turned things around. Sparked by a week­end se­ries win over Ole Miss in early April, the Bull­dogs ended the year win­ning 17 of their fi­nal 26 reg­u­lar sea­son games. That in­cluded a 9-1 mark against three teams that were cho­sen na­tional seeds on Mon­day – Florida, Ole Miss and Arkansas.

MSU cen­ter­fielder Jake Mangum at­trib­uted the turnaround to State's young­sters grow­ing up and the vet­er­ans start­ing to pull their share of the weight.

“A lot of the younger guys started to un­der­stand what it took to win in the league,” Mangum said. “The older guys re­ally did their jobs. It was a lot of fun to see.”

State's resur­gence has now net­ted the Bull­dogs their 37th all-time NCAA Tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance and third in a row af­ter last miss­ing the event in 2015.

It's MSU's third trip to Tal­la­has­see for a re­gional since 2007. The Bull­dogs went 3-0 en route to win­ning the 2007 Tal­la­has­see Re­gional in­clud­ing a pair of wins over host Florida State. MSU also played in the 2012 Tal­la­has­see Re­gional, but were elim­i­nated from the tour­na­ment with a 1-2 record.

The Bull­dogs will at­tempt to avoid such fate this time.

Who­ever emerges from this year's Tal­la­has­see Re­gional will meet the win­ner of the Clem­son Re­gional in a best-of-three Su­per Re­gional next week­end with a trip to the Col­lege World Se­ries on the line. The Clem­son Re­gional fea­tures host Clem­son, along with Van­der­bilt, St. John's and More­head State.

MSU can worry about that bridge when it comes time to pos­si­bly cross it though. For now, all the Bull­dogs' eyes are on Tal­la­has­see. Few could have imag­ined this as a pos­si­bil­ity not long ago. Yet here MSU is and it will try to make the most of it.

“We're all ex­cited,” Mangum said. “We've come a long way this year. From where we were on Feb­ru­ary 21 as a team to now, we've made huge strides. We're ex­cited and ready for the chal­lenge.”

(Pho­tos by Danny P. Smith, SDN)

De­spite Mon­day's Memorial Day hol­i­day, con­struc­tion con­tin­ued on Mis­sis­sippi State's Polk-DeMent Sta­dium at Dudy No­ble Field. If the Bull­dogs are able to win the Tal­la­has­see Re­gional this week­end, there may still be an op­por­tu­nity for them to host a...

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