2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

Previewing The Loaded 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

Previewing The Loaded 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

The State Farm College Baseball Showdown is loaded: Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas, TCU, and Texas Tech. Here's what you need to know.

Feb 2, 2021 by Brady Vernon
Previewing The Loaded 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

Months after hosting the World Series, Globe Life Park will welcome six of college baseball’s best teams. Three SEC teams — Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss — and three Big 12 conference teams — Texas, Texas Tech, and TCU — will participate in the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington, Texas from Feb. 20-22, streamed right here on FloBaseball.

All six teams in the round-robin-style tournament are featured in the top 10 of D1Baseball.com’s preseason Top 25 rankings. Each SEC team will play all three Big 12 teams and vice versa. The entire weekend schedule can be found here.

Watch the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown LIVE on FloBaseball

Let’s dive into what each squad brings to the table in this loaded bunch.

Texas Tech

Tim Tadlock’s team returns players from the roster that reached the final four in the 2019 College World Series and a talented group of new faces. Veteran outfielder Dylan Neuse enters his third year as a featured bat in the lineup. Neuse displayed his skills at the plate in 2019 after he collected 12 doubles, six triples, and eight home runs. He also adds speed as shown in his 12 steals in just 19 games in last year’s shortened season. 

Typical for Texas Tech, the lineup is well-rounded. Last season, freshman Nate Rombach led the team in home runs. In addition, shortstop Can Conley plus outfielders Dru Baker, Easton Murrell and Max Marusak add athleticism to the offense. Overall, there’s a ton of depth on the Red Raider roster. 

In terms of pitching, Micah Dallas will most likely make the jump to the rotation this season. In 2020, Dallas provided 15.2 innings out of the bullpen and struck out 23 batters with one walk and a 0.57 ERA. Behind him will probably be a collection of Mason Montgomery, Hunter Dobbins and Andrew Devine. A possible impact arm might also be juco transfer Brandon Birdsell, who originally started his career at Texas A&M. 

Ole Miss

The Rebels might have looked at 2020 as a lost opportunity. After falling to Louisville in the season opener, Ole Miss won 16 straight games before the season ended. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of talent in Oxford to make a deep postseason run. 

Ole Miss once again has a rotation that can lead them to Omaha. Doug Nikhazy and Gunnar Hoglund lead the way as the primary weekend starters. Nikhazy, a Freshman All-American two seasons ago, was the Friday night starter in the four weekends Ole Miss played last season. He doesn’t have electric stuff but keeps hitters off-balanced. Hoglund, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2018 first-round selection, follows him. He had a 37-4 strikeout-walk ratio last season. Either pitcher should be a fun matchup for the Saturday game against Texas Tech’s lineup. 

Coach Mike Bianco lost his top two bats from 2020, Anthony Servideo and Tyler Keenan, to the MLB Draft. However, a handful of power hitters including catcher Hayden Dunhurst, infielders Cael Baker and Tim Elko. Highly touted freshman Jacob Gonzalez from California should also be an immediate-impact player and could fill the shortstop vacancy. 

Mississippi State

For the Bulldogs to reach a third consecutive College World Series, they’ll lean on pitching. Christian MacLeod tossed 21 innings allowing only two runs in 2020. He should be joined by Eric Cerantola and Will Bednar, who carry a lot of potential into the rotation. Spencer Price comes out of the bullpen after eight innings of scoreless work in 2020. He had 14 saves in 2017 before an injury cost him his 2018 season and forced him into a limited role in 2019. 

Mississippi State benefited from fewer rounds in the MLB Draft. The Bulldogs lost Jordan Westburg and Justin Foscue to the pros, but return veterans Josh Hatcher, Rowdey Jordan, and Tanner Allen. That trio brings back nearly 400 collegiate hits into the lineup. Mississippi State will also expect second-year jumps from infielder Kamren James and catcher Logan Tanner who hinted at their potential in their freshman year last season. 


Christian Franklin highlights the Razorback lineup. The outfielder was right behind MLB draftee Heston Kjerstad in about every offensive category last season. He’ll have big expectations in 2021. Coach Dave Van Horn also brought in new additions to plug into the lineup. Junior college transfers Brady Slavens and Jalen Battles can contribute and there’s a lot of buzz about Arkansas native true freshman Cayden Wallace, who has an impressive bat. 

The Razorbacks will most likely use a group of arms to figure out their pitching roles. Arms that will be used a lot in Arlington include Patrick Wicklander, Connor Noland, Zebulon Vermillion, and Caleb Bolden. Texas Tech, Texas, and TCU all serve as great measuring sticks to help Arkansas figure out who will be in their weekend rotation for the long-term. 


Right-handed hurler Ty Madden very well might be the best prospect at the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown. Madden has a four-pitch mix to choose from that includes a power fastball. He’s set up to have a season to put him as one of the top college pitchers. Madden’s partner in the staff will be lefty Pete Hansen, who didn’t allow a run in 17 innings last season. That pair’s performance against top-tier teams like Mississippi State and Arkansas will preview how good the Longhorns can be. Another name to pay attention to is true freshman Tanner Witt, a 6-foot-5 righthander with a strong arm.

The lineup will just need to do enough to provide run support for the talented pitching group. First baseman Zach Zubia brings back a powerful bat, fifth-year outfielder Austin Todd hit well last season and drove in 15 runs last year and Eric Kennedy was right behind with 13 RBIs. Junior college transfer Ivan Melendez has a ton of power as well and he’ll have a chance to transition to top Division I pitching quite quickly. 


The Horned Frogs have an experienced team for the 2021 season as well as an exciting freshman class coming in. TCU’s RHP Johnny Ray and LHP Russell Smith who each threw over 21 innings in 2020 and had an ERA under three have locked up two spots in the weekend rotation. Lefty Austin Krob also comes back after 11.2 scoreless innings last year. The group of freshmen — Garrett Wright, Cam Brown, Storm Hierholzer and Braxton Pearson — can make an impact right away, too. 

TCU’s lineup overall is solid without a major standout. Infielders Gene Wood and Conner Shepherd each homered at least four times and drove in 14 runs in the shortened 2020 season. Gray Rodgers, Hunter Wolfe, and Tommy Sacco round out the offense. Freshman outfielder Elijah Nunez is a name to watch at the Globe Life Field College Classic.

Brady Vernon has covered various collegiate sports for the past five years. His work has been seen in SBNation, Baseball and Softball America.