With the bitter cold sweeping through Oxford this winter, many Rebels have eagerly awaited the return of America's pastime to Lafayette County. Mostly, of course, we were looking forward to the beginning of baseball season for the sake of drinking beer in the sun, but there after suffering through a thus-far disappointing basketball season and putting up with , frankly, far too much bad news this week, we needed something good in the worst way.
Swayze is obviously that good something. There is something special about that walk across the band practice field to the right field terrace, cooler in tow, with the sound of the ball connecting with the bat ringing across the stadium during pregame batting practice. The smell of charcoal fills the air as the smoke rises like incense to the gods of Omaha-though they have overlooked past offerings thus far, because they're jerks.
Ahhhh, Opening Day at Swayze. You can't beat it.
I arrived around 3:15 to see that the right field terrace had already filled out quite nicely. As I set up shop in left field (ignore my wrinkles please) it was great to see the students continue to show up in droves throughout the game. There must be some rookie security guards (or rookie students) because there was a lot of booing as students were forced to pour out some of their libations before entering. Will Jamison also had to wait a while for the warm up ball to return to the field between a couple inning transitions. C'mon students, didn't you read our baseball preview? I know long stories and big words can be intimidating but we expect more from y'all. Get it together.
Ole Miss Baseball Preview
Ole Miss Baseball Preview
As for the game, the Rebs suffered from a slow start that might have been contributed to nerves. Starting pitcher Jacob Waguespack got into a quick jam with bases loaded in the top of the 1st but was saved by frosh Errol Robinson with a huge double play. The bats were not quite as aggressive as they were this past weekend. There were way fewer swings early in the count and pitch counts for each at bat tended to go longer. The Rebs also failed to go yard but came very close a couple times.
However, our overall team speed impressed me a lot. With five total stolen bases (three of third) as well as Boz pumping the gas to outrun a well executed bunt down the third base line in the 7th, it looks like aggressive base running will play a key role for the Rebs this season.
As for the arms, Waguespack only made it through four innings (66 pitches for 33 strikes I think) before five other pitchers hit the mound through the rest of the game. It seems the coaching staff is still looking for that bullpen arm to make a name for himself as the Rebs have seen 15 different pitchers in the last 4 games.
There is still a lot to learn about this Rebel squad and we probably won't learn much until they face some stiffer competition. All in all, it was a great return to Swayze. See y'all this weekend for Georgia State.