The Gary Henderson era begins at Mississippi State
What Happened? In a stunning move Tuesday, Andy Cannizaro resigned as Mississippi State’s head coach just a week into the second season of his tenure. While the Bulldogs were swept at Southern Mississippi on Opening Weekend, the move was the result of off-field conduct and not on-field performance. Cannizaro admitted to making “some poor decisions” in a statement.
What’s Next? Pitching coach Gary Henderson was named interim head coach. He spent eight years as head coach at Kentucky before coming to Mississippi State after the 2016 season and has the experience and disposition the Bulldogs need to guide them through a turbulent period.
Mississippi State returned to action Wednesday with a 12-1 victory at Jackson State for its first win of the season. The Bulldogs (1-3) will hit the road again this weekend when they travel to Corpus Christi for the Kleberg Bank College Classic, hosted by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at Whataburger Field, the home of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hook. Mississippi State will face UC Santa Barbara, also a projected regional team that got off to a slow start Opening Weekend, Nicholls State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
On some level, the Bulldogs just need wins as they seek to overcome their disappointing start to the season. But Mississippi State is also looking to get its offense going. It was stymied over the weekend by Southern Miss and was held to just six runs. The Bulldogs are still seeking a middle-of-the-order presence after losing Brent Rooker and Ryan Gridley from the heart of the lineup last season. Outfielder Tanner Poole and DH Hunter Vansau both homered Wednesday and could provide some of the power Mississippi State has lacked so far, but the team is still slugging just .341.
Mississippi State came into the season ranked No. 23, but fell out of the Top 25 after the Opening Weekend sweep. The Bulldogs have questions to answer, but they still are a talented team. A solid showing in Corpus Christi would get Mississippi State back on track before it faces the difficult field of the Shriners College Classic next weekend in Houston.
Florida State moves on without All-American Tyler Holton
What Happened? After throwing 4.2 scoreless innings on Opening Day, Florida State junior ace Tyler Holton left the contest with a torn UCL and is having Tommy John surgery. A second-team All-American last season, Holton was also expected to contribute as a first baseman and DH this spring.
What’s Next? Replacing a pitcher of Holton’s caliber would be no easy task for most teams in the country. No. 129 on the Top 200 draft prospects list, Holton doesn’t have overwhelming stuff but is widely respected around the country as a polished, dependable college starter, who went 10-2, 2.22 a year ago. Thankfully for No. 3 Florida State, the Seminoles have a sizable amount of depth on the mound. Junior righthander Cole Sands, who struck out nine in five innings in his first start of 2018, will slide into Holton’s Friday role and has more traditional Friday-ace power stuff. Sophomore lefty Drew Parrish, a holdover from last year’s rotation, should take over Saturdays. From there, FSU has a few options. This Sunday, 6-foot-3 freshman lefthander Austin Pollock is projected to get the ball.
Going forward, the Seminoles could potentially try redshirt junior Andrew Karp, a righthander with starting experience who at times flashes dominant stuff. Righthander Cobi Johnson, barring health, could be another Sunday candidate. Johnson was a blue-chip recruit and highly regarded freshman who just returned this season from Tommy John surgery. While the Seminoles are a better team with Holton anchoring the rotation, they have the resources and a stout enough offense to overcome his loss. By no means is it time for FSU to press the panic button. The Seminoles remain on the short list of Omaha favorites.
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Texas Tech has options to fill in for All-American Steven Gingery
What Happened? Reigning first-team All-American lefthander Steven Gingery lasted just 2.1 innings into 2018 before tearing his UCL and will miss the rest of the season due to Tommy John surgery.
What’s Next? With Gingery’s injury, the Red Raiders lost one of the most accomplished, experienced starters in the Big 12 and in the country. No. 49 on the Top 200 Draft Prospects list, Gingery is a top-three-rounds kind of talent and put up an eye-popping 10-1, 1.58 stat line last season. While his loss is certainly a significant blow, much like FSU, the No. 5 Red Raiders have more than enough options to absorb the loss. In fact, Texas Tech returned its entire weekend rotation from last season. Junior righthander Davis Martin has been Tech’s go-to arm since his freshman year and should remain the Friday bellcow. Sophomore John McMillon put together a strong first start Opening Weekend against Maine and may have the best pure stuff on the staff. And between junior lefty Erikson Lanning and junior righthander Ryan Shetter—both of whom have starting experience—Texas Tech should have little problem rounding out the weekend.
Louisiana State looks to bounce back
What Happened? After needing to come back from a six-run deficit at home on Opening Day, Louisiana State lost its next two games against Notre Dame and lost its opening weekend series for the first time since 1999. The Tigers were outscored 27-15 on the weekend.
What’s Next? It doesn’t get any easier for No. 22 LSU. No. 14 Texas comes to Baton Rouge looking for a statement series victory as it tries to reestablish itself as a College World Series contender in coach David Pierce’s second season.
LSU (2-2) beat New Orleans, 14-6, Wednesday, but needs to get its pitching staff sorted out quickly. The Tigers have a team ERA of 7.50 and their starting pitchers have combined to throw just 10.2 innings. LSU will flip righthanders Zack Hess and Caleb Gilbert in the rotation, moving the electric, but potentially erratic, Hess to Friday night. It will be the first Friday night start of the sophomore’s career.
Texas (3-1), meanwhile, is looking to get its hitters on track. The Longhorns were held to nine runs at home last weekend by a tough Louisiana-Lafayette pitching staff. Junior infielders Masen Hibbeler and Kody Clemens have accounted for 14 of the Longhorns’ 29 total hits through their first four games. Texas will have to find some more offensive balance going forward.