Let's all pause for a moment of silence.
The Locks of Love. Strong Tower. #BARBACOAANDPORK. Whatever you called him.
Star catcher Will Allen is no longer gracing us with his presence and is now a Detroit Tiger. And yes, he took his flow with him. So where does Ole Miss baseball turn from here? Who can possibly fill the void left by the Thrill from Gainesville behind the dish? You might be saying to yourself, "that's impossible, no one can replace Will" -- but I assure there are three young men who will be vying to change your opinion on that.
The Rebs will also be breaking in a new designated hitter. Allen, the legend Sikes Orvis and Holt "RBI Anytime" Perdzock got some time at DH last season, but this season will look a lot different. With Orvis holding down first base and Perdzock battling in the outfield, some new names will be picking up the slack.
Heading into the season, the man who will be tasked with replacing Allen will be the senior from Hattiesburg, Miss., Austin Knight. Although he only started five games last season, two of those were in Omaha as he was filling in for Allen while he was nursing a sore shoulder. Knight hit .303 with 10 doubles last season and will be looked upon to bring more to the plate this season as Allen's offensive production will be greatly missed. Knight is very capable on defense, shows great poise with the pitching staff and can manage the game well, as was shown in the College World Series against TCU and Virginia.
Other Names to Know
The other two fellas aiming to unseat Knight as the starting catcher are sophomore Henri Lartigue and Nic Perkins. Lartigue is a name you might already know; he played sparingly last season in mostly pinch hitting or defensive substitution scenarios. Henri is still coming along as a college hitter and will look to compete this year while Perkins is a true freshman who was a Louisville Slugger All-American at Francis Howell High School in St. Louis.
Once Allen showed signs of fatigue and wear and tear, he was comfortably sitting in that DH spot for the latter part of the season. Now that he has departed for pro baseball, that position is also up for grabs. Let's see who we could see in the DH spot for the Diamondbearz...
The towering freshman from Kent, Wash. could very well be your starting DH come February 13th, when the Rebs welcome William & Mary to Swayze. Wainhouse is a 6'6, 255-pound vending machine that can hit. Also a Louisville Slugger All-American in high school, he made a name for himself this off-season with his power and surprising plate discipline for a big dude. He flexed his muscles in the fall when he teed off in the Pizza Bowl and blasted a towering home run. Joe could very well be thrown into the fire early due to his power and ability to drive in runs before the order turns back over to the top.
Perdzock could also be counted on to be in the DH spot, especially when facing a RHP. It is well-known how Holt can step up and produce but it is time for the junior from Memphis, Tenn. to take on more of a role and maybe be seen in the starting lineup day-to-day. His legacy in the pinch hit spot has already been cemented so hopefully he can make a splash elsewhere all the same.
Other Names to Know
We mentioned him earlier when discussing catchers, but Lartigue can also be mentioned here. In the aforementioned Pizza Bowl, the sophomore from Southaven, Miss. went 3-for-4 with a triple, one home run an RBI and two runs scored. If Lartigue can put it all together consistently at the plate, he can be a big-time stick in Bianco's order.
Lastly, a name to be on the lookout for is freshman Kyle Watson. The young man from Southaven, Miss. played on Team USA's Mid-Atlantic squad and was a 2013 East Coast Pro team member. He has an extremely good frame for a newcomer, standing 6'3, 195 pounds. The staff is very high on Watson and he could become new hitting coach Mike Clement's best friend.