Sideline View by Dale McKee

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Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi will open their 2019 baseball seasons this weekend. All three teams are considered top twenty teams by the media that cover college baseball. Vanderbilt University was predicted to win the 2019 SEC baseball championship as voted on by the league’s 14 head coaches in the annual preseason poll. The Commodores were named on six first place votes, while LSU had five votes. Florida and Arkansas also received first place votes. LSU was selected the top team in the West followed by Ole Miss, Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Alabama. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri followed Vanderbilt in the SEC East.

Rebels can hit

Ole Miss will open the season this weekend by hosting Wright State in a three game set. The Rebels, coming off a West Division title and SEC tournament championship, have to replace their entire weekend pitching rotation. The Rebels have seven returning players who hit over .300 last year. Rebels first baseman Cole Zabowski was selected to the All-SEC first team while Rebel third baseman Tyler Keenan, DH Chase Cockrell and closer Parker Caracci were named to the second team.

Mangum back

Jake Mangum, Tanner Allen, Ethan Small plus newcomer T.J. Ginn will lead the 2019 MSU Bulldogs. The season begins this weekend as Youngtown State comes to Starkville. Excitement abounds as the $55 million renovation of Dudy Noble Field is complete. The 2018 Bulldogs baseball season was a roller coaster of a ride. They were swept by Southern Mississippi to open the season and then lost their head coach the following week. The Bulldogs turned it around late in the season and made the SEC tournament only to be bumped early. Then the impossible NCAA tournament run inspired by their rally bananas ended up in of all places Omaha, where they won two games before falling to national champion Oregon State.

Wall Banger

Southern Mississippi baseball has a preseason All-American in Matt Wallner. The Minnesota native has hit 35 home runs in his first two seasons in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles centerfielder will also spend time on the pitching mound. USM is ranked as the team to beat in Conference USA. Wallner has plenty of help as second baseman Matthew Guidry returns along with first baseball Hunter Slater. Stevie Powers and Walker Powell will be the weekend arms for the Golden Eagles. USM opens by hosting Big 10 opponent Purdue this weekend.

Odds & Ends

MSU softball pitcher Alyssa Loza hurled a perfect game as the Lady Bulldogs (4-1) blanked Valparaiso, 10-0, in five innings this past weekend.

The Ole Miss Rebels basketball team won twice in SEC play to improve to 6-4 in league play and 16-7 overall. The Rebels are tied for fifth place in conference play. The Bulldogs (16-7) lost at home against LSU and Kentucky to fall to seventh place in conference play at 4-6. USM won its fourth straight game to move into fifth place in C-USA play. The Golden Eagles also had their best crowd in four years as nearly 5,000 fans showed up, including Saints star Alvin Kamara.

The Lady Bulldogs (22-1) had a big win over Tennessee to improve to 10-0 in SEC play and extended their conference winning streak to 26 games.

Not too many high school football players in Mississippi ink with Ivy League schools. Lamar Academy quarterback Joseph Hutchinson did just that as he signed with Princeton University.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the 55th highest paid quarterback in the NFL. The former MSU star is making only $725,00 a year from football and wants a big raise.

Contact at Dale at ddmckee18@yahoo.com