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When husky Mississippi State junior first baseman Wes Rea arrived on campus in Starkville, Miss., with guys such as Adam Frazier and Hunter Renfroe already there, the three, and others, discussed leading the program to new heights.
Despite being a traditional power, Mississippi State had gone through a tough transition when head coach John Cohen took over. The Bulldogs were 25-29 and 23-33, respectively, his first two seasons. And though they showed signs of taking a step forward in 2011 with an NCAA Super Regional appearance, Rea, Renfroe, Frazier and others were certain — that simply wasn’t enough.
So, they, with the help of the coaching staff, and infusion of some key contributors, put together a plan. It was a well formulated thought process that began with a 40-24 overall record and SEC tournament championship in 2012, and culminated last season with a 51-20 overall record. Most importantly, last season also ended with national runner-up honors.
A year later, a much improved Rea is back for his third season with the Bulldogs. And while Frazier and Renfroe are gone after getting drafted in the sixth round (Pirates) and first round (Padres) this past summer, the goal around Starkville remains very much the same — to get the program’s first national title.
“My thing is when we got here, Coach Cohen was really rebuilding the program to try to get it back to where it used to be,” Rea said. “No team had turn this thing around, and I thought our group could be the one to do it. Everyone is here to do this thing, and we’re here to finish it off this season. We always thought we were going to get it going again.
“I think there’s a quiet confidence around here,” he continued. “Everyone knows what’s expected out of this group, now it’s just time to hang on for the ride.”
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