STARKVILLE • Luke Hancock committed to Mississippi State during the fall of his freshman year at Houston High School.
At the time, Hancock didn’t think it was that big of a deal. But fast-forward nearly five years and the now-freshman catcher for the Bulldogs can truly appreciate the opportunity he was given at such an early age.
“I didn’t know how blessed I was at that time,” Hancock said. “But now looking back on it, I realize I was extremely blessed to even have Mississippi State talk to me. It means a lot to me now.”
Dream come true
While a young Hancock may not have understood the magnitude of his early commitment to MSU, it was the only school he ever dreamed of attending.
“I grew up a huge Mississippi State fan and this is pretty much home for me,” Hancock said. “It’s only 35 or 40 minutes from my house and I’ve always wanted to come here and try to help the Bulldogs win.”
Hancock was a five-time all-district performer, three-time first team all-state selection and the Class 3A Player of the Year as a senior at Houston, hitting .543 with six home runs, 13 doubles, three triples and 39 RBIs in 2018.
However, it took Hancock a little while to adjust to all the talented pitchers he’s been facing at the college level.
“Pitching is the hardest thing to adjust to because in high school you’d see three or four good arms every year,” Hancock said. “Here you see a good arm every time you go up to the plate. It’s a lot different.”
Hancock did not play in MSU’s first eight games but made the most of his debut opportunity against Southeastern Louisiana on Feb. 27. He collected his first hit that day, a solid two-run single to right-center.
“It was tough not playing a lot at the beginning,” Hancock said. “I just had to keep my mind right so whenever I did play I could perform at the best of my ability and help the team win in any way possible.”
Hancock has appeared in 26 games and made a dozen starts this season. He’s hitting .326 with four doubles and 14 RBIs and has a .483 on-base percentage.
“Offensively, he gives us a lot of good at bats and it’s not always hits,” said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. “He grinds out four, five and six-pitch at-bats and takes his walks. He’s a really good hitter and has a good swing.”
Most of Hancock’s at-bats have come as a designated hitter but he has also caught 10 games behind the plate – including four starts.
“One of the biggest things for a catcher is to have the (pitching) staff trust you in every way possible, whether it’s receiving, blocking or throwing,” Hancock said. “You have to get to know them and pick their brain as much as you can. You need to understand what they want to throw in certain counts and where they’re going to throw it.”
Hancock gets to conclude his freshman season with his teammates at the College World Series and the throngs of State fans that will accompany them to Omaha.
“It’s been everything I thought and more,” Hancock said. “The fans here love Mississippi State baseball. They love all the players and treat everybody so good. I could never have imagined it would be like this. It’s amazing.”