Archived Story

Work to be done

Published 12:48pm Friday, June 21, 2013

Like most kids with athletic aspirations, Alexander City native and Mississippi State pitcher Kendall Graveman imagined himself  making the clutch play on the biggest sport stage.
But now that the dream is closer and closer to becoming a reality with the Bulldogs in the College World Series, Graveman still finds himself in a fantasy world with his eye locked on the prize.
“It hasn’t set in yet,” he said. “I look at it like there’s still baseball to be played. I’m not satisfied with just being in Omaha.”
Graveman and the Bulldogs are currently in the midst of a magical run at the College World Series.
They are currently one victory away from a spot in the national championship best-of-three series.
Mississippi State would have to lose twice in order to be eliminated.
Graveman said despite the improbability of the Bulldogs’ season, he’s handled it well.
He is Mississippi State’s most experienced hurler, after all.
“The four years of experience I have has been a huge part of the deal,” he said. “I’m not going out there nervous while pitching in front of 26,000 people, because I’ve pitched in those big situations. Being able to stay relaxed has been huge.”
Graveman pitched in game one of the  CWS against No. 3 Oregon State, whom the Bulldogs face again today.
In 4.2 innings of work, he allowed two earned runs as the Bulldogs went on to defeat the Beavers 5-4.
Mississippi State’s first ever SEC All-Defensive team member said the team effort has been a key part of the Bulldogs’ run.
“I know I’m not the only piece of this team,” he said. “Everyone has stepped up big during the playoffs.”
The allure of this kind of success, he added, led him to return to Starkville.
“That was one reason I came back to school,” Graveman said. “I had it in my mind that we could win some games and maybe the national championship. Now, we are in a position to do that.”
Before landing on the mound for the Bulldogs, Graveman served as one of the more formidable arms in the Benjamin Russell bullpen.
He said the time spent under the tutelage of BRHS head baseball coach Richy Brooks has been instrumental in his transition to the next level.
“Coach Brooks did a great job with helping me,” Graveman said. “For me, the experience I gained at Benjamin Russell and the lessons I learned helped to keep me grounded.”
He added that thanks to Brooks, he not only became a better player, but his father was also able to become a better coach.
Now with the Bulldogs on the doorstep of history, the team co-captain has had a chance to reflect on the whirlwind of activities.
“Watching the College World Series as a little kid, I’ve discovered that the town is a lot different than I thought,” Graveman said. “Everyone here loves their baseball. The experience has been good, and it’s pretty special.”
But as far as Graveman is concerned, the Bulldogs aren’t done in Omaha.
“The part I’ve enjoyed about this the most is seeing how far we’ve come,” he said. “In my freshman year, we were 6-24 in SEC conference play. We started at the bottom, and now we have a chance to end up at the top, or at least close to it. For us to go from 6-24 to being the only SEC team left in the field and one of four teams left in the nation, that’s been the biggest enjoyment for me.”
Graveman said the support he’s received from Alexander City through the ride has been moving.
“Coming from a small town and having people congratulate me has meant a lot,” he said. “I thank everybody in Alexander City for their support.”