BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Mississippi State's journey out of the Hattiesburg Regional losers bracket is the best way to represent how they've battled all season long. They truly embrace the underdog status.
"We've been in a lot of positions this year where people doubted us," says national player of the year Brent Rooker. "I think that speaks volumes to our team and speaks volumes to the message that coach likes to portray to us, that no matter how much we're down, no matter how often we're down, that we've always got a chance to battle back."
It's that energy that made Andy Cannizaro an attractive hire as hitting coach at LSU. And it's the same energy that's led this resilient Mississippi State team to Alex Box for a super regional. The Tigers are well aware what type of battle they're in for this weekend against a team with 25 come from behind victories.
"That goes to show you that they're not giving up," says Cole Freeman. "We know if we're going to the seventh inning or the eighth inning with the lead, it doesn't matter because we're about to get their best bullet."
But the fact still remains that LSU is one of the few teams that the Bulldogs failed to rally against this year. The Tigers flexed their muscle in Starkville with their sweep of Mississippi State to end the regular season, but at the same time, they've put that series behind them.
"I can't emphasize enough that what happened there three weeks ago has no bearing on what will happen here," says LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. "Obviously, I hope we win the games. But the fact that we beat them already is not going to, in any way, impact the outcome of these games. Like one of you asked me earlier this week, is it hard to beat them five times in one year? We're not looking at it that way. We're looking at it as having to beat them twice. The three games we've already played are ancient history."
"We played solid baseball for three days against those guys," says Cannizaro. "We played in two really close ball games. We didn't do nearly enough to win any of those games in Starkville at the end of the regular season. And here we are. Nobody expected us to be here. It's big bat LSU against Mississippi State this weekend with a chance to go to Omaha. There's not a better storyline in the country."