Rebel Brothers and Sisters,
Who guessed that we’d stand at 9-1 thus far? Not I, for one. In the first ten games, this team has scrapped and scraped their way to victory in more hotly contested games than I can remember over any similar period in the ten years I’ve followed Ole Miss Baseball.
Maybe we are trying to bring back some Dan McDonnell luck o’ the Irish with our new coach Kirk McConnell. We have a new strength and conditioning coach as well this season. He came from 2010 SEC home run leader Auburn, so maybe we won’t see as much of a drop in power numbers with the new bats. So far, it would suggest that our numbers won’t drop off too much. However, being that we haven’t been a big time power team in a couple years, maybe it’s still not so great. Either way, I don’t think we could expect to see many instant benefits. Coach Levy specifically mentioned that one of the key aspects about that Auburn team was that they had a bunch of players that had been in the program and working out under his system for three years. As we all know, this is not a luxury that our team shares this coming year. So we have a greater number of new players than returning veterans. Perhaps a good shakeup was what the program needed. Last year, even casual fans could probably see that our lack of solid depth was problematic. I feel better about the program when we play 6 true freshmen in a game, like we did against Austin Peay last night. All that aside, through ten games the Rebels have hit 7 HRs, and the opposition has hit 0.
I have been pleasantly surprised at our effective pitching so far. I was unsure what to think of our arms this year, being that relatively few had meaningful game experience. I like what I have seen so far, but I remain cautiously optimistic given our tougher road ahead. Blake Newalu is off to a great start, and I hope he proves to be another excellent JUCO SS pickup by Coach Bianco. Preston Overbey has lived up to his billing. His hitting has been very good, and while he may have some work to do defensively, I am glad to see he is assertive in his fielding efforts. I think we’ve gotten a good one here. I hope Matt Smith doesn’t have to contend with a lingering forearm injury in his senior year. I hate it when bad things happen to Good Rebels. Zach Kirksey’s got a similar build to Brian Pettway. I hope he ends up swinging the same kind of bat at Brian did. I think having Jake Morgan and Brett Huber in our bullpen is going to put a lot of pressure on teams. I’m glad they’re both on our team. Matt Snyder and Tanner Mathis are both off to good starts. It’s fun seeing guys playing in the field and on the mound. Matt Tracy has contributed in both, although I’d like to see his power numbers increase (9 hits, 9 singles), I can’t argue with an OBP of .462 so far.
Springtime in Oxford is special. While I love football season, and I loved it even more as a student; I always felt more of a personal affinity for the springtime. The good times I had sharing Rebel victories in Right Field will be among my favorite memories at Ole Miss. It was great to see who showed up for the cold night games in the early part of the season and made it through the end of the year. A lot of them were folks that you may never have really remembered their names, after drunken introductions were made Friday night and forgotten by Sunday afternoon. Not that it really mattered. You wouldn’t even recognize these folks walking to and from class. It’s like you kind of assumed that some of them never actually bothered to wear a shirt in the first place. Like life in Right Field was actually reflective of some form of real life, a place where the keys to triumph and possibility could be found at the bottom of a Budweiser can. How glorious those days were…
Here’s to a great start from the 2011 Diamond Rebels. Keep up the good work men.
Hotty Toddy Rebels.