Starkville Daily News
Pitcher Hunt ready to contribute for State
KC Hunt was taking a run around Ramapo High School's track in his hometown of Wyckoff, N.J. when he got a phone call he'll always remember.
The Mississippi State Bulldog pitcher had been taken in the 12th round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The selection in the draft was something that has always been a dream for Hunt and it followed his older brother Shooter's selection back when he was picked in the first round when KC was just 8-years-old.
However, the way that last season went didn't sit right with the talented right handed pitcher. The Bulldogs went from national champions to the bottom of the Southeastern Conference and had a losing record. On top of that, Hunt wasn't healthy for the whole season. He wanted more for himself and the team, so he came back for one last run.
“Getting drafted was awesome,” Hunt said. “It was surreal. I was ready to get back here and get us back to the success. This year, staying healthy is always a good start, but staying consistent. Will Bednar and Landon Sims were always consistent, and you knew what you were getting. I'm looking to stay consistent and be more healthy.”
It was looking like Hunt's year early in 2022. He was praised by his coaches and teammates as being one of MSU'S best pitchers in the fall and leading up to the season and he earned a starting spot in the rotation.
An injury, however, set Hunt back as he never returned to the starting rotation. He found a role in the back of the bullpen and had some key moments, but the
numbers overall weren't what he wanted. Hunt finished 2-4 in 15 games with a 7.46 earned run average throwing 25.1 innings, giving up 27 hits, 21 runs and 13 walks while striking out 32.
He's healthy and motivated and he wants to be back at the forefront of games.
“I'm looking to start this year,” Hunt said. “I know last year I started that first game and I got hurt, but whatever situation coach puts me in, I'm ready to roll out there. I'm looking for a healthy season no matter if it's in the back of the bullpen or starting. I'm ready to roll.”
The results of 2022 weren't what anyone on the team was expecting as the Bulldogs went from the pinnacle of college baseball to missing out on postseason all together. A group of players that were on that team are looking to make sure that things change this year.
MSU coach Chris Lemonis put together a leadership committee in the offseason that includes Hunt, Luke Hancock, Kellum Clark and Parker Stinnett.together with the other returnees as well as a big group of talented newcomers, they're focused on bringing Bulldog baseball back to the top.
“I think there are 13 of us that are back and 30 new guys, but 13 are back to prove that last year was a fluke and the new guys are coming in hungry and ready to prove something in the SEC,” Hunt said. “We're just trying to get better each day. We're taking it day by day here. Coach Lemonis preaches to just get 1% better each practice. We're trying to get out there and glue it all together with 30 new guys.”
Among some of the new players that Hunt is most excited about are outfielders like freshman Dakota Jordan and transfer Colton Ledbetter as well as returnees Hancock, Clark, Hunter Hines and Slate Alford.
The confidence level on the team hasn't changed from where it was heading into last season, but the team has a more business-like approach. Hunt knows how much it means for the fans in Starkville that the baseball team succeeds, it's his goal to bring more wins and championships ahead this year.
“We've got a lot of good guys and I trust that coach is going to put us in great position,” Hunt said. “I think there's a lot less pressure. There's a lot of pressure here with all of the fans and the history behind us, but we know that. We're just looking to get out there, get this season started and push last year in the past.”