Rebels’ J.B. Woodman shining in SEC spotlight
Hoover, Ala. – Time and time again, centerfielder J.B. Woodman has proven he’s not afraid to step out front and lead the Rebels’ offense in what is arguably the toughest conference in the nation. He continues to dominate at the plate and in the field and is a huge reason why the Rebels are undefeated in the SEC Tournament–as well as in the hunt for a top-8 national seed in the NCAA tournament.
And it’s not just Woodman’s teammates and coaches who have taken note of his performance so far in this year’s SEC Baseball Tournament; opposing teams have been impressed with how the junior from Orlando, Florida has handled himself each time he has stepped up to the plate.
In Tuesday’s opening round, Woodman went 2-for-3 against Georgia’s bullpen, nailing a two-run triple (first triple of the season) and an RBI double. Then on Wednesday in the first inning against second-seeded South Carolina, Woodman recorded his 14th double of the season. He leads the team with 53 RBIs this year.
Woodman, a 2016 All SEC First-Team and All SEC Defensive Team player, was 2-for-2 at bat against the Gamecocks. Players and coaches from South Carolina and Georgia offered their opinions of Woodman’s performance thus far in the tournament after Ole Miss defeated the two teams to make its way into Thursday’s game against No. 6 seed Vanderbilt.
Woodman garners respect from SEC coaches and players
“I have a lot of respect for (J.B.) and the ball players in this conference,” Georgia’s centerfielder Stephen Wrenn said after the Rebels defeated the Bulldogs.
South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook was effusive in his praise for Woodman, saying:
South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook
Of course it comes as no surprise that Woodman’s teammates are thrilled to have both his production at the plate and his defense in the field–and none moreso than the Ole Miss pitchers. Just ask Rebels ace Brady Bramlett:
When asked, Woodman, who leads the team in hitting percentage (.336) and homeruns (13), talked about his own performance.
Things definitely worked out for Woodman on the second day of the tournament. Unlike the Georgia game where Woodman had to be the primary savior for the Rebels’ offense, he had lots of help against South Carolina. Henri Lartigue led the way with a 4-for-5 effort at bat. Colby Bortles was 2-for-4. Tate Blackman and Ryan Olenek were 2-for-5.
The steady opportunities at bat will have to keep coming for Ole Miss if it wants to make it to Sunday’s championship game. The Commodores are up next–and they hit the ball just as well as the Rebels did on Wednesday.
Will Toffey and Connor Kaiser (2-for-3) contributed two RBIs each to the six RBI game total, keeping them in a tie for 19 RBIs on the year. Julian Infante, who was 2-for-4 including a homerun in the 6-5 win over the Aggies, now has seven homers on the season.
As for as pitching goes, Vanderbilt leads the SEC in strikeouts (489).
“We know that they pitch it really well, but nothing changes for us,” Lartigue said. “We play the game. That is what we have been doing so far this week, and hopefully it pays off .”
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)