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From Starkville to Biloxi: Ethan Small’s return to Mississippi

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 10:47 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Two years after Ethan Small wrapped up a college career for the ages pitching for Mississippi State, he’s back in the baseball-crazed Magnolia State, pitching for the Shuckers.

“Obviously a lot of support here. Mississippi is a great baseball state. You have Ole Miss and Mississippi State going to supers, I’m here, and we have a lot of fans,” Small said. “It’s a great time for Mississippi baseball.”

With a minor-league ERA of 1.85 and 82 strikeouts in just under 50 innings of work, his numbers pop off the page - but the road to the minors wasn’t easy. Small underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2016, and missed his entire sophomore season in 2017.

“It was tough. No doubt, it was tough,” he said. “I remember coming back, initially I was slated to be a reliever. I ended up meeting with some of the coaches at State and telling them I wanted to start. We had some of those conversations, and obviously it was a much longer road than I could explain. That year (2018) honestly turned about to be a pretty good year.”

‘Pretty good’ may be selling it short. He was fourth nationally in games started and top-20 in strikeouts. In 2019, he took home the award for national pitcher of the year. After spending 2020 at the Brewers’ alternate site in Appleton, Wisconsin, he currently leads the Shuckers in strikeouts.

“I feel pretty good,” Small said. “A lot of it has to do with the lost season last year, and now we’re starting to get into some games and get into the rhythm of things and feeling a lot better about it.”

His impressive opening month began on the highest of notes - in just his second start of the season, the Shuckers combined to throw the franchise’s first-ever nine-inning no-hitter.

“That was pretty fun. An action-packed night and I got to share it with a lot of other guys, too,” Small said. “I remember I came out and talked with my parents, but then I got called back in because a beer shower was taking place. I had to be a part of that.”

He may not be back to his old stomping grounds of Dudy Noble Field, but his MSU passion still runs deep. Even though he’s set to pitch in the Shuckers’ series against the Braves, he’ll still have an eye on his former squad.

“Go ‘Dogs. See you in Omaha.”

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