Coming off of back-to-back Super Regional appearances, Mississippi State University baseball head coach Andy Cannizaro is hopeful for his team's success in fall practice and the upcoming season.
Faced with the limitation of their usual practice facility being unavailable, Cannizaro said he and his team have adapted well. He said the team worked in the Palmeiro Center, a football practice field and are taking reps at the softball intramural field.
“One of the things we continue to preach every day in our program is that every day is an opportunity to win a job,” Cannizaro said. “Every day you put your uniform on and represent this ‘M over S’ on our jersey and our hat, is an opportunity to represent the past greats here at Mississippi State.”
When it comes to pitching, Cannizaro said it feels good to look down a roster and envision the roles the pitchers will play throughout the season.
Cannizaro credits pitching coach Gary Henderson for working with the players to create a deeper lineup of arms.
“He did a magnificent job in aligning those guys, finding roles for them and trying to mix and match as much as possible to allow our team to have success,” Cannizaro said.
After losing all-SEC shortstop Ryan Gridley, Cannizaro said Luke Alexander and Hunter Stovall are actively competing for the open shortstop position. He said it is always good to see veterans competing their absolute hardest to fill a spot.
“Those guys have continued to get better over the course of the summer and the course of the first couple weeks of the fall for us,” Cannizaro said. “We feel like we have two really good options, and I am really excited about both of those guys.”
Cannizaro said there are some players who will be limited in fall practice due to injuries. He said several players are recovering from either elbow or shoulder surgery and are in different points of their rehab.
Two players who will be healthy at the start of fall practice include Ethan Small and Noah Hughes. However, Cannizaro said there are several guys, like Keegan James and Blake Smith, who are behind in their Tommy John recovery.
“Those guys are throwing flat grounds and that type of thing right now,” Cannizaro said. “I would look for those guys to be available on the back end of fall practice, but certainly available come January when we get those four weeks before the season starts.”
Cannizaro said this is an exciting time to get players healthy and strong and look at who will take ownership of the starting positions in the upcoming season.
“They are ready to show our coaching staff who is ready to play and show this year’s fan base that we can continue to build on the things we did last year,” Cannizaro said. “We are very excited and very jacked up. I slept in my uniform last night.”