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First Down, Goals To Go

Updated: May 8

(SEC, MSU Athletics images)

After Two Down Seasons Staying Home, Mississippi State Has Unlocked The Gateway To Postseason, Will It Take The Next Steps?

It was not the way they would have preferred, but Mississippi State, along with Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Georgia, and South Carolina clinched a spot in the 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament following results over the weekend. The side by side pairing above of the event logo and the iconic "M over S" is something not seen in a while.

You can make those reservations on Highways 150 or 280 now, Bulldog fans. I hear Pappadeaux is lovely this time of year.

In the case of the Bulldogs, though, it wasn't a Sunday win over Alabama, it was Missouri's loss to South Carolina that locked things down. But, after two years of missing Hoover and the SECT, where they've been one of the most frequent attendees since making the first three 1977-79, getting there is appreciated all the same and just the formal keycode to unlock several other opportunities they, and their legion of hungry fans, aspire to experience again for the first time since Omaha 2021.

And, if they are to do that, it will be accomplished by playing like the last two games at Vanderbilt, like the Governor's Cup game against Ole Miss, and like the first two games at home against Alabama, a five game win streak that had brought them their first serious national attention, and mention this late in the season, since the MCWS Finals three years ago.

There was timely hitting, for average and power, there was competitive and sometimes dominating pitching, starting and relieving, and there was crisp clean defense, whose percentage had put State in the top teams of the NCAA rankings.

Coach Chris Lemonis has pounded home to his team the importance of being relentless against conference opponents, not settling for just winning series at home and avoiding being swept on the road, a realistic goal which to their credit has been attained. And, they've done more than that a time or two, taking a pair in Nashville and sweeping an Auburn team at home that's one loss away from elimination at Hoover.

The point Lemonis is himself relentless in instilling in his team is the killer instinct, the hard nose, the boot on the throat mentality. Because when the opposition ramps up the last two weekends of SEC play, at Hoover and beyond, it's not enough to get fans and media excited and talking about hosting, it requires coming together--like they've proven more than capable several times this season--and ascending to their ever rising set of goals.

Because that's where they are on this season's aspirations: first down, and goals to go.


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