Diamond Dogs Ink Three

STARKVILLE, Miss. - A trio of Mississippi high school standouts have become the first three baseball signees for Mississippi State University on the opening day of the week-long November signing period for baseball.

Inking with Mississippi State are first baseball Ethan Bright of Batesville, Miss. (South Panola High School), catcher Kolby Byrd of Brookhaven, Miss. (Brookhaven Academy) and pitcher Chris Stratton of Tupelo, Miss. (Tupelo High School).

"I'm really pleased with the players we are signing this fall," said first-year Bulldog skipper John Cohen. "We got a late start in the recruiting game this year, but Coach (Butch) Thompson and Coach (Lane) Burroughs closed the gap quickly. One of our goals with recruiting this year is to raise the level of athleticism, and we feel like we've done well in that area."

The early signing period runs through November 19.

Ethan Bright, 1B, 6-5, 230, L-R, Batesville, Miss. (South Panola High School)

HIGH SCHOOL: Earned second-team Crossroads Diamond Club all-state honors after hitting .447 for coach Patrick Robey's SPHS Tigers in 2008 … Led his team with 38 RBI and seven home runs as a junior … First-team all-district selection and tabbed South Panola's Offensive Player of the year … Also picked up three wins as a pitcher … Hit .419 and paced SPHS with 41 RBI and nine home runs and posted a 6-0 pitching mark as a sophomore in 2007 … A first-team all-district and all-conference performer as a sophomore … Three-year varsity letterman in baseball … Also lettered in both football and basketball during his prep career … Member of Mu Alpha Theta and the Junior Civitan Club … Member of South Panola's traveling drama troupe Risque Business and served as a Peer Counselor at SPHS… Played summer league baseball for the Jackson 96ers and was coached by Derek Topik … Home run derby winner at the 2008 Southeastern Championship Series held at historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. … Participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla.

PERSONAL: Born Ethan Scott Bright on January 4, 1991 in Oxford, Miss. … Son of Joan and Kenneth Bright of Batesville, Miss. … Younger brother of former Delta State quarterbacking standout Josh Bright.

COHEN ON BRIGHT: "Ethan is arguably the best power hitter coming out of the Mississippi high school ranks this year. He is a physical player who hits with power and swings from the left side. He can help us at first base or third base and maybe on the mound."

Kolby Byrd, C, 6-1, 225, L-R, Bogue Chitto Miss. (Brookhaven Academy)

HIGH SCHOOL: Three-year starter and three-time all-district catcher for coach Stephen Cooksey at Brookhaven Academy … Power-hitting receiver who batted .391 and drove in 44 runs as a junior in 2008 … Lashed 15 doubles and 11 home runs, including four grand slams … Earned second-team All-Mississippi Private School Association All-State honors and honored as the All-Lincoln County MVP and BA's Defensive Player of the Year … Hit .323 as a sophomore and .316 his freshman year … Also a four-year starter and second-team All-State performer in football … Two-time all-district and Lincoln County defensive MVP in football … Starred for two seasons in summer league baseball competition and hit .435 in 2008 for coach Derek Topik's Jackson 96ers .

PERSONAL: Born Kolby Cortez Byrd on March 23, 1990 in McComb, Miss. … Son of Liz and Terry Byrd of Bogue Chitto, Miss.

COHEN ON BYRD: "Kolby has the combination of skills you like to see in a catcher. He's a left-handed hitting catcher, has power at the plate, and has very good arm strength behind the plate, maybe as good as I've seen coming out of high school."

Chris Stratton, RHP, 6-3, 175, R-R, Tupelo, Miss. (Tupelo High School)

HIGH SCHOOL: Two-year starter as a pitcher and infielder at Tupelo High School … Coached by Gary Enis … Earned all-state, all-district and all-north state honors after helping guide the Golden Wave to a 32-7 mark and state runner-up honors in 2008 … Compiled a 10-1 record with a 1.95 earned run average with 98 strikeouts in 71-1/3 innings of pitching … Also compiled a .367 batting average … Honored as the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Player of the Year … Notched a 6-0 pitching mark for Tupelo High School's 34-5 edition in 2007 … Named a Rotary Scholar and the THS Most Outstanding Freshman for 2005-06 … Member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Key Club … Played for the Tupelo 49ers in 2008 summer league competition, earning MVP honors at the state tournament … Coached by former MSU baseball signee Kirk Presley.

PERSONAL: Born Christopher Lee Stratton on August 22, 1990 in Tupelo, Miss. … Son of Janet and Lee Stratton.

COHEN ON STRATTON: "The thing that stands out about Chris is his advanced, effortless delivery. That will make his adjustment from high school to collegiate baseball seamless. And he has a limitless future as far as his velocity."

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