‘New Dude’ highlights opening weekend of DI baseball

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This rendering shows rebuilt Dudy Noble Field/Polk-Dement Stadium, which opens this weekend in Starkville.

Mississippi’s Division I college baseball season begins Friday, and the star will be what Mississippi State fans are calling “The New Dude.”

No, we’re not talking about J.T. Ginn, the freshman right-handed pitcher from Brandon, who turned down $2.4 million from the Los Angeles Dodger to pitch for the Bulldogs.

We’re talking about re-built Dudy Noble Field/Polk-Dement Stadium, the sparkling, $67 million facility where Ginn presumably will pitch for the next three seasons.

The new stadium features every bell, every whistle imaginable for a college baseball stadium, including three stadium clubs, 20 luxury suites, 96 outfield lounges, a new two-tiered grandstand, a capacity of upward of 15,000, and 12 lofts (rented condos) beyond the Left Field Lounge area.

“We think, overall, we will have the best facility in college baseball,” said athletic director John Cohen, who played and coached baseball at State.

State hosts Youngstown State for a three-game series with games Friday (4 p.m.) Saturday (2 p.m., Ginn is the schedule starter) and Sunday (noon). Dedication of statues of Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro will precede the Friday game and dedication of a Ron Polk Ring of Honor (Clark, Palmeiro, Jeff Brantley, Dudy Noble and Boo Ferriss) will precede the Saturday game.

State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss are all nationally ranked in the various college baseball polls.

Southern Miss plays Purdue in a three game series at Hattiesburg (4 p.m. Friday, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.) The series features two NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago.

Ole Miss will welcome Wright State for a three-game series with a 4 p.m. start Friday and noon starts on Saturday and Sunday.

Jackson State opens the season with a four-game set, hosting Boston College, for a 6 p.m. Friday game, a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader and an 11 a.m. Sunday game.