justin foscue louisville 19

First team All-American Justin Foscue returns at second base for Mississippi State this season. 

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State brings back one of the best double play combinations in the country in Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg.

Foscue and Westburg are known more for their bats, combining for 43 doubles, 20 home runs and 121 runs batted in during their sophomore seasons in 2019.

Foscue, a first team All-American and USA Baseball team member, switched to second base midway through last season after beginning the year at third base. He led MSU with 14 home runs as well as hitting .331 with 22 doubles and 60 runs batted in.

Westburg started 66 of 67 games at shortstop in 2019 and batted .294 with 21 doubles, two triples, six homers and 61 RBIs.

The Diamond Dogs’ double play duo did tie for the team lead in fielding errors last season with 13 apiece. Westburg posted a fielding percentage of .947 while Foscue fielded at a .941 rate.

State actually returns ¾ of its infield starters but 2019 first baseman Tanner Allen has been moved to right field this spring.

Josh Hatcher, who can also play outfield, will have his chance to lock down first base again this year. Hatcher started 25 games at first base as a freshman in 2018 but Allen held down that role in all 67 games last year.

Hatcher started nine games in the outfield last season and 19 times as a designated hitter. He batted .321 with six doubles, two triples, three long balls and 21 RBIs.

“Hatcher, from last summer to now, may be the most impressive guy we've had,” said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. “Not to put pressure on him, but he's just been really good in everything he's done.”

Brandon Pimentel is another first base option for the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from El Paso, Texas paced Howard College as a freshman last year hitting .458 with 82 hits, 11 doubles, 14 home runs, 70 RBIs, a .765 slugging percentage, .515 on-base percentage and 137 total bases.

Like Allen and Hatcher, Pimentel can also play the outfield.

Third base has been a revolving position for State for several years. Lemonis hopes that either sophomore Landon Jordan or freshman Kamren James can give the Diamond Dogs some stability at the hot corner for years to come.

Jordan played in four games at third base in 2019 but spent most of the year as a second baseman/ designated hitter. He finished the season batting .328 with three doubles, one homer and drove in 11.

James is the younger brother of former MSU pitcher Keegan James and was a two-time first team All-State selection at Desoto Central.

Pimentel and James aren’t the only newcomers trying to find a home on the Mississippi State infield. Northwest Community College transfer Tanner Leggett will serve a Westburg’s back-up at shortstop while freshmen Mason Land and Noah Fondren also begin the year as reserve infielders.

“Kamren James has a chance to be a really good player, but so does Landon Jordan, Noah Fondren, Mason Land and Tanner Leggett,” Lemonis said. “We have some nice depth to this ball club, a little more than we had last year.”

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Twitter: @loganlowery

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