Moving from a 2,500 capacity baseball stadium at Southeastern Louisiana University to Dudy Noble Field, which holds close to 15,000 spectators, Carlisle Koestler will take the mound as the oldest player on the Mississippi State University roster.
“It’s like you are a freshman again kind of but you are also the oldest guy in the nation,” Koestler said. “It's fun—meeting all of these guys, experiencing something different. It was more about finding the best fit for me athletically and academically.”
Head coach Chris Lemonis said Koestler will be a swing guy, someone who can pitch in relief and also start for the Bulldogs. Lemonis said Koestler also has the maturity of an older athlete.
“It feels like he's 30 years old even though I think he's only 24,” Lemonis said. “He's been through a lot of college baseball. He was the closer at Hinds Community College. He was the Friday night guy at Southeastern Louisiana.”
This season, Koestler made the decision to go to MSU as a graduate student following a season-ending injury at Southeastern Louisiana his senior year. A Vicksburg native, Koestler played baseball at Warren Central High School
Koestler said his graduate school will focus on workforce educational leadership as he wants to teach and coach at a community college. He also wants to be a pilot.
Another player returning from injury will be JT Ginn who had some arm issues last season. Lemonis said he believes Ginn can lead the Bulldogs as their ace against anybody in the country on Friday nights.
“We feel like we can go Friday night with anyone in the country with JT,” Lemonis said.
Lemonis said Ginn, now a sophomore, has been working hard to stay healthy and mentally prepare this season.
“He looks like he is in the best shape he’s ever been,” Lemonis said. “He works, he loves this game and getting after it, and I think he’s more mentally prepared about what he has to do.”
MSU’s expectation is set on winning the College World Series, an accomplishment the program has yet to do in its 11 trips to Omaha.
“We know that the expectations are high, but we still have to work hard,” Koestler said.
A key part of any College World Series Champion is their pitching staff. MSU is now three years removed from a season where players like Jake Mangum have to pitch after so many pitchers had arm injuries.
The team has 22 new players this season. Lemonis said his challenge this season is building the bullpen, especially for midweek games.
“I’m more concerned about building that bullpen right now,” Lemonis said. “Our bullpen was the reason we were very successful last year.”
In contrast to Koestler’s age, Ginn is much younger but Lemonis said his leadership is at a similar level.
“He's really not that old but he has taken a real leadership position on our pitching staff, especially with our younger guys,” Lemonis said. “When he talks, guys listen. They are tuned into what he’s saying and understand what he’s gone through already to prepare themselves.”
Wearing maroon and white with the M over S logo is one of the ways Koestler will represent his home state. MSU will start its 2020 season against Wright State University.
“It means a lot,” Koestler said. “It is awesome to get to represent the state where you are from. It is awesome.”