STARKVILLE, Miss. — Texas Rangers first baseman and former Mississippi State standout Mitch Moreland will be the featured speaker at Mississippi State’s 14th annual “First Pitch/Meet the Team” baseball celebration Saturday, February 12 on the MSU campus. In addition to an appearance by Moreland, this year’s celebration, set for a 4 p.m. start in the Griffis Boardroom and the Palmeiro Center, features an informal family-style barbeque, an introduction of the 2011 Mississippi State University baseball team, and events associated with the team’s on-going “Do It For Duffy” fund-raising campaign in support of injured former Mississippi State player Ryan Duffy.
Tickets for the event, priced at $15 for adults and $10 for youth ages 18 and under, are now on sale through the MSU Athletics Ticket Office (662-325-2600) in the Bryan Athletics Administration Building and through the ticket office’s on-line operations (www.MStateAthletics.com/tickets).
Proceeds from “First Pitch” ticket sales and a silent auction scheduled during the afternoon event will be donated to the Duffy family to assist with medical expenses associated with Ryan Duffy’s rehabilitation and recovery. Duffy, a senior on the MSU’s 2010 baseball team and a teammate of Moreland on State’s 2007 College World Series team, sustained a broken neck during a summer swimming accident in Florida. He is undergoing rehabilitation at his home in Malabar, Fla. Information regarding additional fan-sponsored fund-raising events scheduled that weekend, including a 5K “Do It For Duffy” Run, is available online at DoItForDuffy.org.
A native of Amory, Miss., Moreland starred as a first baseman and pitcher for the Bulldogs from 2005 to 2007. He helped spark Mississippi State to a 5-0 run through NCAA regional and super regional play in 2007. In his final appearance at Dudy Noble Field, Moreland picked up a save in the super regional championship game against Clemson in the 2007 Starkville Super Regional, vaulting State on to its eighth advancement to Omaha, Neb., and the 2007 NCAA College World Series.
Moreland was drafted in the 17th round by the Texas Rangers in 2007 and signed with Texas following his junior season at State. He worked his way up through the Rangers’ minor league ranks and last summer received the call-up that made him the 44th Mississippi State player to reach the highest level of professional baseball. Moreland hit .255 in 47 games last season, including a .348 mark in Texas’ postseason run to its first World Series berth. He hit .462 in the 2010 World Series, belting the Rangers’ first home run in World Series competition, a game-winning three-run blast against San Francisco.
Moreland joins an impressive array of guest speakers for past “First Pitch” events at Mississippi State. That group includes former MSU baseball standouts Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, head coach John Cohen, Dave “Boo” Ferriss, Dave Klipstein, Alex Grammas, Burke Masters, Joel Matthews, Jonathan Papelbon, Jay Powell, Jim Robinson, Nat Showalter, Bobby Thigpen and Dan Van Cleve, best-selling author and MSU alumnus John Grisham and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, longtime manager Los Angeles Dodgers.
Included in this year’s program is the presentation of the third annual DOGSBY Awards, a light-hearted presentation of special awards to Bulldog players and coaches fashioned after ESPN’s popular ESPY Awards.
Mississippi State opens its 121st season of baseball and the third year of the John Cohen coaching era at MSU Feb. 18 when the Bulldog play host to the Akron Zips. The game is part of a six-game, three-day double-round robin baseball weekend at Dudy Noble Field featuring host MSU, Akron and Lamar University. Mississippi State plays four games on opening weekend and 14 consecutive home games to launch its 35-game home schedule.
The 2011 Bulldog baseball roster features 15 returning lettermen, including five starting position players and nine pitchers from last year’s club, along with 19 newcomers.
Article courtesy MStateAthletics.com