Bradley Loftin impresses in dominating victory over Valparaiso

The smoke arising from the grills in the outfield lounges at Dudy Noble Field was nothing compared to the heat Mississippi State pitcher Bradley Loftin threw on the mound in the 12-2 run-rule win over Valparaiso Tuesday night.

Loftin got his impressive performance started early by striking out the side in the first inning and setting the tone on the mound for the Diamond Dawgs. The left-hander had to battle back from a two-run deficit in the third, but MSU’s offense bounced back to put up a six-spot in the bottom of the fourth that gave Loftin confidence on the mound.

Following the win, Loftin discussed the importance of the six-run inning that allowed the Diamond Dawgs to take the lead.

“It was big because pitching with a lead is a lot easier than pitching in an even game or especially when you’re down,” Loftin said.

Coming out of high school, Loftin was ranked as the No. 11 left-handed pitcher in the class of 2023 and the No. 1 left-hander in Mississippi. Loftin set the all-time strikeout record during his time at Desoto Central High School and was also named First Team All-State in 2021 and 2022.

Needless to say, Loftin is already making his impact felt on the mound for MSU baseball. In the 12-2 win over Valparaiso, Loftin recorded 11 strikeouts in six innings of work, while only allowing two runs on two hits and five walks.

In the postgame press conference, Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis gave his evaluation of Loftin’s performance and his progression so far this season.

“I think it’s his best outing of the year, but he just looked a lot more comfortable tonight,” coach Lemonis said. “We know he has really good stuff, and if he commands the zone, he’s just really hard to hit.”

Coach Lemonis followed that by discussing Loftin’s ability to respond and attack the zone after the two-run inning that gave Valparaiso the lead.

“He was good there, and I actually thought he was better,” Lemonis said. “Like I told the team, we take the lead, and he comes out and dominates that next inning. I mean, that was his best inning, I guess, was the fifth when he came out and really locked in, which we’ve had a lot of trouble with lately.”

After Loftin’s dominating performance, he now leads the team in strikeouts with 24 in 15 innings pitched on the young season. With outings like Tuesday, Loftin left no doubt that he is a rising star on MSU’s roster.

Loftin's swagger and confidence on the mound are arguably two of his best qualities. Coach Lemonis gave his thoughts on Loftin’s fiery personality.

“I’d rather have the poker player, but I like that he’s tough. For a freshman, he’s a tough nut,” Lemonis said. “I mean, he went out there last week against Southern Miss and gave us a pretty good effort, too, and he’s not scared and he’s just working on poise and pitching. There ain’t very many freshman left-handers doing what he’s doing.” 

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