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Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst is integral part of Rebels’ late-season turnaround

by | May 24, 2022 | Baseball | 0 comments

HOOVER, Ala. — In football, a team’s success usually goes hand in hand with its QB’s performance. Likewise, in baseball the catcher is often thought of as the “quarterback” of his team. Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst is a prime example of this, helping his Rebels’ launch a late-season turnaround that has seen them go 8-2 over their last 10 games. 

As the Rebels prepare to play Vandy in the opening round of the SEC tournament, the junior from Carriere, Miss. is currently riding a six-game hitting streak and coming off a 6-for-10 weekend against Texas A&M.

The recent series vs. Missouri — which the Rebels swept — is when the Ole Miss comeback began. Accordingly, in games two and three against the Tigers, Dunhurst went 3-for-7 with an RBI.

Then, after the win over Mizzou, head coach Mike Bianco’s bunch would head down to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss in Tuesday-night action against the No. 14-ranked Golden Eagles, defeating their in-state rival, 4-1. 

Following that midweek win, the Rebels traveled to Baton Rouge to take on LSU in an all-important series that was considered a make-or-break weekend for Ole Miss.

In game one vs. LSU, the Tigers took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

But in the top of the second, it was Dunhurst’s RBI single that tied the game. Later that inning, the Rebels would take the lead and they never looked back as they secured the game-one victory, 5-3, over the Tigers.

Momentum was building and Dunhurst was a huge part of it. He talked recently about what he’s doing differently during this hot streak.

Really just simplifying things. Kind of going back to my old ways. I changed my swing a little bit this year and kind went throughout the whole year and got tired of getting out. So I thought I might as well go back to what was working. So we’re doing that. We feel good and we’re just going to continue with it. Mainly, (I’m) just getting my foot down early and getting my hands more back. I was just trying to swing a little too hard. I just simplify and get the barrel to the ball now.

Hayden Dunhurst on his batting

In game two against LSU — an 11-1 mauling of the Tigers — Dunhurst aided the Rebels’ with his two-run home run in the second inning.

He finished the week 3-for-12 with a double, a home run and five RBI, while his average improved to .229 from .214 over the span of just about a week.

The Rebels’ sweep of LSU would mark the first time in program history that Ole Miss had ever done so in Baton Rouge.

In the final series of the regular season, coming against A&M at Swayze, Dunhurst would break out in a big way. While the Rebels dropped the series against the visiting Texas A&M Aggies, Dunhurst did his part, turning in a 6-for-10 weekend with a double, a home run, five RBI and  three walks over the three games vs. A&M.

His batting average went up from .229 from .258 in just three games.

Coach Bianco talked earlier this week about his catcher’s performance.

It’s just confidence. He had a really good weekend and it really started back during Missouri and the LSU weekend. Not just against right handers, not just against fastballs. You can tell he’s feeling really good because he’s handling all kinds of pitches and handling the righties and the lefties.

Coach Mike Bianco on Dunhurst

Dunhurst is 13-for-34 (.382) over the last ten games, and he is looking to stay hot in the SEC Tournament in Hoover and help the Rebels secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Next Up

Ole Miss will face the Vanderbilt Commodores in an opening round single-elimination game scheduled for Tuesday. First pitch had been set for 4:30 p.m.; however, numerous rain delays have pushed the start time back to late evening, if there are no more delays. Stay tuned to The Rebel Walk Twitter to keep up with all the action — and weather delays. 

Nick Filipich
Nick Filipich

Nick Filipich was born and raised in Biloxi, MS. He is an Ole Miss senior majoring in Sports and Recreation Administration. A sports junkie with a great passion for all things Ole Miss, Nick played baseball and football in high school — which is where he discovered his love for sports. He is an avid Braves and Saints fan, and in his free time enjoys spending time with family, friends and his black lab, Dixie.

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