Ole Miss Baseball: An early look through first homestand
The Ole Miss baseball team (5-2) finished its first homestand of the year Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Arkansas State. We have definitely learned quite a bit about these new-look Rebels over the last two weeks, so here are some observations through the first seven games:
The Rebels have a great 1-2 punch right now with Christian Trent and Brady Bramlett. Ole Miss is waiting for Sam Smith to round back to last year’s form. The midweek starters look to be strong, as well, with Evan Anderson and Jacob Waguespack.
The defense is still coming around; there have been a handful of errors, both physically and mentally, but it is early in the season. Look for Coach Bianco to shore those up prior to the SEC season. There have also been a couple of pleasant surprises thus far. Colby Bortles looks very comfortable at third base, and Kyle Watson has settled in nicely in left field.
The Ole Miss offense has been a little hit and miss so far; however, the game conditions with the wintry weather have been less than desirable. Look for the guys like JB Woodman, Sikes Orvis, Colby Bortles, Henri Lartigue and Tate Blackman to heat up as the weather does. This team has plenty of speed and a lot of power–and it will only get better with experience.
- The middle-relief pitchers are looking stronger all the time.
- Scott Weathersby has the stuff and the ability to pitch in long stretches. He earned a save in the first weekend.
- Jacob Waguespack has matured and looks very comfortable on the mound. He boasts a 0.00 ERA so far this season.
- Evan Anderson has been getting the nod early in the pen and seems to have the ability to get a lot of swing-and-misses. Through 8 1/3 innings, Anderson has recorded 11 strikeouts.
The Rebels also have a couple of spot relievers who will be counted on to eat up batters and or innings.
- Matt Denny and Drake Robison will provide valuable time on the mound.
- The closer role looks to be in the hands of Wyatt Short (L) and Will Stokes (R). Both pitchers are hard throwers who fill up the zone.
The Rebels are aggressive at the plate, daring the opposing pitcher to throw a first-pitch fastball. We have seen plenty of hit and runs and a few steal attempts so far these first two weeks.
The offensive lineup is a little bit non-traditional as well. While J.B. Woodman may not be your typical leadoff guy, he is comfortable in that role. Sikes Orvis has been in the 3-hole for 4 of the 7 games. The philosophy, here, is to get him a few more at-bats and force the opposing pitcher to face him in the first inning, regardless. Orvis has good protection with Bortles and a switch-hitting Henri Lartigue behind him. The bottom of the lineup is anchored with power and speed in: Austin Knight (power), Kyle Watson (combo), Tate Blackman (combo) and Cameron Dishon (speed).
Next Up: The Rebels head to Orlando, Florida to take on nationally-ranked University of Central Florida. First pitch is slated for Friday, February 27 at 5:30 pm, CST.
(Featured image: Courtesy of Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)