Inside Will Bednar's return to the mound from injury for Mississippi State baseball

Tyler Horka
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

STARKVILLE – Will Bednar woke up in Arlington, Texas two and a half weeks ago and didn’t feel right.

The sophomore right-handed pitcher was supposed to start on the mound for Mississippi State in its second game of the season against then-No. 11 TCU. Coach Chris Lemonis said Bednar woke up with soreness in his neck, though, and would not be able to toe the rubber in the College Baseball Showdown.

“It was tough,” Bednar said. “I really wasn’t happy with how I was feeling then. As time went on I was able to get on a throwing program and kind of get back into a groove into feeling better and progressing.”

The start Bednar waited nearly a full calendar year and an extra 18 days for finally came Tuesday against Grambling State. Bednar pitched two innings and retired six of the seven batters he faced in the Bulldogs’ 10-0 victory. He struck the final five out swinging.

Lemonis and pitching coach Scott Foxhall have been careful in getting Bednar back on the mound. He pitched one inning in the Kent State series and was given a two inning maximum against Grambling.

Lemonis said Bednar will be available for the upcoming weekend series against Eastern Michigan for more relief work. This is all after Bednar took a full week off from throwing entirely as he recovered from his nagging ailment.

“Now we’re starting to try to build some volume,” Lemonis said. “One inning to two innings to hopefully next time he goes out he gets a couple more innings, and we’ll go from there.”

Bednar said he’s happy any time he’s put on the mound. But for someone who was supposed to be a weekend starter all along, the drive to get back into that role isn’t going away.

Mississippi State pitcher Will Bednar made his first start of the 2021 season against Grambling State.

“It’s always a goal to be a starter and play a big role, but really it’s kind of doing whatever it takes to help the team,” Bednar said. “And we’re really competitive as a staff. Pretty much all aspects, in the weight room, on the field. We’re all super competitive and rooting for each other to do well.”

Bednar was consistently ringing his fastball up at 94 miles per hour Tuesday, but Lemonis didn’t pay much attention to that. He said that's always been a given with Bednar for as long as he's coached him. 

He was more impressed by the breaking ball that fooled a number of Tigers' batters.

As Bednar makes a push to be one of MSU’s most counted on pitchers again, he has to have all of his pitches working – from fastball to breaking ball. He checked those boxes Tuesday in what was a positive step in his comeback. 

“He threw some really good sliders,” Lemonis said. “And I think he was really good in the pen with his slider too. Seeing him have his breaking ball command is a big piece of coming back after being off for a while. That’s the piece that we’re probably more excited with.”

Contact Tyler Horka at thorka@gannett.com. Follow @tbhorka on Twitter. To read more of Tyler's work, subscribe to the Clarion Ledger today!