Last season, the Rebels made it to Omaha powered by an offensive barrage coordinated by hitting coach Cliff Godwin. Auston Bousfield, Austin Anderson and Will Allen all had career years at the dish in their final seasons in Ole Miss uniforms, hitting a combined .332 with 18 home runs and 155 RBIs. As a team, Ole Miss raked at a .297 clip, breaking numerous offensive records and fielding six All-Americans in their everyday lineup.
Inevitably, Godwin -- long tabbed as one of the hot up-and-coming names in college baseball -- took a head coaching position with his alma mater, ECU. In steps the Rebels' new hitting coach, Mike Clement.
Before arriving in Oxford, Clement held the same position at Kansas State. Despite only being in Manhattan for two seasons, Clement left his mark in a big way. In 2013, the Wildcats were the second best hitting team in the country (.322), won the Big 12 for the first time ever and hosted and won their first NCAA Regional. Although they fell one win shy of making a trip to Omaha, Clement helped the boys from the Little Apple make plenty of noise with the aluminum.
That season saw KSU rank top 10 nationally in six other offensive categories and also bring home some hardware as Ross Kivett was named Big 12 player of the year. In that year, Kivett was one of seven of Clement's pupils that were named all-conference, six were first-team. Clement is known for his rigorous work ethic and constant positive attitude, as you can see, it rubs off on his players and the results have shown.
Before his brief stint at Kansas State, the Marshalltown, Iowa native was with a familiar foe in College Station, Texas A&M. While in the Lone Star state, the Aggies found themselves in the postseason every season Clement was in the clubhouse, including a trip to Omaha in 2011. Along with the trip to Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, A&M also won the Big 12 title in 2011.
One of the things that is also constant with Clement is the aggression his teams play with on the bases. Twice his teams have led their respective conference in steals, fourth nationally in 2012. Clement likes to attack opposing defenses and put pressure on them with steals, hit and runs and being aggressive in the count early and often.
Clement was also the hitting coach at UT-San Antonio and coached just the second All-American in Roadrunners' history, Michael Rockett. The four-time All-Southland conference recepient was drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers. Clement helped UTSA shred the record book as they finished top 25 in triples, slugging percentage and home runs.
Another constant trend with Clement, getting players to the next level. In his nine years coaching at the Division I level, he has seen 17 of his players sign professional contracts. This reputation can only help with the Rebels recruiting success under Mike Bianco, especially in the state of Texas as Clement has strong ties there.
With the Rebels needing some gaping holes filled in the lineup this season and the new baseball adding another dimension to the offensive game, Clement will be as much of a key cog this season as anyone on the roster. The Rebels will need the #WHISKEYANDMEAT to keep flowing with Sikes Orvis, J.B. Woodman, Colby Bortles and Errol Robinson leading the way. The four returning Diamondbearz hit a combined .284 last season with 18 home runs and 106 RBIs.
Although the season is still in its infant stage, the Rebels have scored 26 runs in three games, including 33 hits and one beer shower courtesy of a BORTLES SMASH.
Clement has the track record of a brilliant hitting coach with the numbers, All-Americans and draftees to prove it. Let's all welcome Mike Clement to the Rebel program and show our appreciation with plenty of cold beverage showers in right field this season.