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June 23, 2018

Gary Henderson

Ethan Small

Jake Magnum

Jordan Rowdey

Omaha, Nebraska

Oregon State - 5, Mississippi State - 2

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Mississippi State coach Gary Henderson, student-athletes Rowdey Jordan, Jake Mangum and Ethan Small.

Coach, give us an overview.

COACH HENDERSON: In terms of the game, if you would have told me we were going to throw up eight zeros, I would have took that. Certainly not the five spot.

We really didn't get to a spot where we were able to solve Kevin Abel. Give the Beavers a lot of credit for the pitches and the changes for as old as those kids are, very elite level of college baseball. So congratulations to Pat and Pat and Nate. Those are good guys. Good program. Friends of mine. A lot of respect for them.

Beyond that, what I really want to say is that 123 days ago we started on a journey with these guys and my assistant coaches are here. I asked them to be here. It was an unbelievable time in my life for a guy who coached as long as I have, never been close to being something we were a part of.

I asked them to create an identity. I asked them to buy into my vision. I asked the kids the same exact thing. Honesty, integrity, competitiveness, act like men, not boys, and they did it.

I was so proud of them. Obviously humiliating time for the program, for the assistant coaches, for me, to be a part of something like that, total nonsense. And the players as well and their families. Nobody bought into that.

But they bought into us and these kids bought into me, Mike Brown, A.J. Gaura, Jake Gautreau, and they did everything we asked. And it was awesome, what a great experience. Great experience for the coaches but great experience for the players.

They learned it's a higher education. We're in college and they learned from the most humble, brutalist beginnings, you can turn something into an overwhelmingly positive experience. And that's what we've done. We didn't get to the final two. We got to the final four. And I couldn't be more proud to be a part of Mississippi State baseball.

We had support obviously early on from Dr. Keenum, Coach Cohen and the administrative staff, all those people, our managers, they're the best but really what you had was each other by each other the players had the players and the coaches had the coaches and the coaches and players had each other and it was kind of it and it was kind of rough those first three weeks on the road as you might imagine. That's just the nature of it.

But driving home from Baton Rouge on March 31st, 2-7 and 14-15 and I remember talking to Jake saying we're getting better but we're not winning. I know we're getting better. I was positive. So was he. We were positive that we're getting better.

But all you had really was faith in your own evaluation of what was going on. And then the next weekend it started to click. L.A. turned things on Sunday with a walk-off. The next thing you know you're beating somebody good you won a series finally.

Then we got on a roll. And then we just thought we were good. And then we were good. And I couldn't be more proud of our players, the families bought in, these guys over here bought into me. Really, really rewarding experience. And that's how I feel.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Jake, I guess just kind of sum up, I saw you guys at that Shriners tournament, you didn't play great that weekend but still won three games. From that point on until now how has this ride with this team specifically the postseason run?
JAKE MANGUM: The ride started in August. The group of guys that don't even have a baseball field to practice on.

You're inside every day, rain or shine, sunshine, you're inside. And all the 6:00 a.m. lifts. You get really, really close to these guys. And you see the freshmen grow. You see the seniors grow. You see everybody grow as people and players.

But it's a story that's unbelievable. And you headed into short, you kept thinking we're so close, the school's first national championship. It sucks to fall short. But it was an unbelievable ride. And this team was a lot of fun to play with.

Q. Ethan, what was it like going against that Oregon State lineup, what did you see from your vantage point and how tough is it to pitch against a lineup like that?
ETHAN SMALL: I think one thing that stands out about them is the they hit mistakes really well, and I pitched against Florida, Arkansas, all those teams, and something all those teams have in common is they hit bad pitches or pitches that are left over in the middle. I made a few of those, they hit them. Hats off to them. But the pitches I made, they got out struck out, rolled over it and stuff like that. But I competed the best I could, and you just come up short sometimes.

Q. Rowdey, Jake, even down to your last out in the ninth inning bases empty this team fought back. What was the mood like in the dugout, and how much did you guys still believe even in that point?
ROWDEY JORDAN: The mood was positive. Like it has been all year from the last time we were down by a few runs but one strike left. So we were positive. It's a positive attitude in the dugout. We kept believing and we had a lot of momentum but just came up short.

JAKE MANGUM: Exactly what Rowdey said. Positivity all the way through. Two outs, nobody on, still positive.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Just with the way the season transpired, going from assistant to interim head coach, do you kind of feel like the way this season transpired rejuvenated you a little bit?
COACH HENDERSON: Well, I think yes. I was plenty rejuvenated last year when we went through that run.

And I love this job. I've shared that with several people. Mississippi State is a wonderful place. And the fans are unbelievable. You guys already know that. You've experienced that.

The fan support, started feeling it from from Mississippi State, is unbelievable for baseball. I've never been part of anything like that. We've done the absolute best we could to hopefully put ourselves into a position to continue the work we started with these guys. We obviously started with three freshmen pretty much the entire year, sometimes four. But we've got a wonderful group. I love my assistant coaches. Our players love them. We would love to be able to continue what we started. It's a wonderful place. Rejuvenated.

Q. What can you say about just the veteran leadership here and the way that those guys kind of helped steer this team to this point in the season. How special do you think that group was?
COACH HENDERSON: I think it's really special. I'll tell you what I think was the most special thing was. I think the most special thing was early on the older guys let the younger guys in. I mentioned that the past few weeks when you sit back look at it, say how did we get here the tremendous improvement of our freshmen, some of it is unbelievable and we've had some older guys get better as well. But those younger guys got better and better and they were always in the club. They were never on the outside. And I think that speaks to a lot of our guys, specifically I think it speaks to Jake. I think it speaks to Elijah. Manny. Tanner. I think those guys were fantastic in letting those guys get inside. Stovy as well. Tight relationship with TA.

I think they did a really, really good job of getting them in, getting them comfortable. Letting them be who they are and having them feel like they're part of the baseball family from day one. It was a fantastic job by our older guys.

Q. What do you think is going to happen? What do you think is going to happen with the job?
COACH HENDERSON: I'm just really optimistic. That's Coach Cohen's decision. He'll do a good job with it. We're kind of in you know? And we'd like to stay there. I love this assistant coach staff that we have. We started something special.

The fans are in. We'd like to stay and make a run of it. It's a great place, who wouldn't want to be the baseball coach at Mississippi State? I do.


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