National Champs at last! For the first time in school history, Mississippi State took home a title when its baseball team defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores 9-0 in the final game of the College World Series.
Will Bednar and Landon Sims put on a pitching clinic as they held Vanderbilt scoreless. Meanwhile, the hits kept coming for the Bulldogs, led by outfielders Tanner Allen and Rowdy Jordan (who has one of the best sports names I’ve heard in a while). After an Omaha run that saw several close calls and a remarkable comeback, the final game didn’t really have a climatic ending — it was a textbook blowout — but to the Bulldog nation it couldn’t have been any sweeter.
Mississippi State has been close to a national title several times in baseball and basketball, too, but they never had that perfect season ending. In the post-game interview Coach Chris Lemonis compared it to the Chicago Cubs clinching the 2016 World Series after a 108-year drought. Mississippi State’s sports program began in 1885, so, yeah, it’s been a long time coming.
The cowbells may still be ringing in Starkville.
If you’ve read many of my columns, you can probably tell I’m a sports fan. Growing up in Tennessee, of course I rooted for the UT Vols, but I married into the Mississippi State fan base (my husband is an alum), and I’m happy to see the Bulldogs win.
One thing I’ve learned about Mississippi State fans is they are devoted. They show up to support their team whether they are playing for the national championship or battling through a losing season. If you go to The Junction on a fall Saturday, the number of tailgaters will be no indication of how the season is going, because State fans are there, win or lose.
And Bulldog fans don’t just follow one sport, they follow them all. I’d venture to say your average State fan could list off most of the players on the football team, baseball team, men and women’s basketball teams and probably a few tennis players, too.
The announcers estimated State fans made up roughly 90% of the crowd at the T.D. Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha. It’s 800 miles from Starkville to Omaha. It sure looked like it was worth the trip.
I’m happy for those fans. The ones who loyally supported their team all those years knowing eventually this day would come. Like my friend, Carol Reese, an MSU alum and lifelong Bulldog supporter who grew up in Sessums, Miss. The win came on the day she retired from University of Tennessee. What a gift! She told me she considered wearing maroon to her going away party.
But the credit goes to the players who fought hard all season, overcame adversity and when they were considered underdogs, instead became legends.