MSU begins fall baseball practice as construction on home stadium continues

New Dudy Noble Field project continues.
Staff Writer

It’s time for the Mississippi State baseball team to get back to work, so what better setting than the middle of a construction site?

MSU began fall practice on Monday and the Bulldogs have begun using the under-construction, new Dudy Noble Field on a limited basis.

That creates a unique set of circumstances for the Diamond Dogs, but head coach Andy Cannizaro says his team won’t mind a bit.

“We will be able to get our defensive work done, infielders will be able to take ground balls and outfielders will be able to take fly balls,” Cannizaro said. “Obviously we will have to be very careful because there are construction fences that run from home plate all the way down the foul lines. The walls do not currently have padding on them. There are brick walls in right field and all down the sides that do not have padding on them yet. At the same time, I don’t think it will matter to our guys at all. We are so excited to get outside and get this fall started.”

Mississippi State began its construction of the new Dudy Noble immediately following the conclusion of last season. Almost as soon as the final out was recorded, bulldozers and construction equipment moved in and began tearing down the old structure to begin the $55 million new construction project.

The new Dudy Noble won’t be completely finished until the beginning of the 2019 season. However MSU will play through the construction in 2018 as the lower level of the stadium, as well as outfield seating, is expected to be ready.

In the meantime, the Bulldogs are practicing in midst of steel beams and jackhammers. It’s quite the contrast from most falls, but Cannizaro and his squad is making the most of it.

“I have continued to tell our players all along that the first couple of weeks of fall practice there is going to be some trial and error in terms of having a practice plan scheduled for each day,” Cannizaro said. “Maybe we are running behind schedule because our team needs to get escorted onto the field at the same time and escorted off the field at the same time because of everything going on.

"The actual playing surface is a construction zone, so we can’t come and go as often as we want. We need to take the field as a team and exit as a team, so there will certainly be some trial and error to those first couple of weeks.”

MSU isn’t limiting itself to working only on the field at Dudy Noble. The Bulldogs will also spend time this fall doing drills in the Palmeiro Center. In addition, MSU will spend two weekends this fall at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson where the Bulldogs will practice and scrimmage. Fall practices will conclude in the state’s capital city with the Maroon and White World Series from Nov. 17-19.

Whether practices are in Starkville or in Jackson, the Bulldogs don’t mind. Cannizaro and company are just glad to be playing baseball once again.

“It doesn’t matter where we are practicing because our guys know every day is an opportunity to win a job, impress the coaching staff and get ready to play this upcoming season,” Cannizaro said.