Talking Pitching

The first weekend of intrasquads didn't prove to answer many questions concerning Ole Miss baseball 2011. But that isn't surprising. The next few weeks will do more of that.

Coach Mike Bianco said the pitching rotation is probably the most pressing issue. But if the past shows us anything, the three who start opening weekend will not necessarily be the same three who will be starting three months later.

Normally one and maybe two of them are the same. But rarely are all three still in the same spot when warmer weather arrives and postseason play is in sight.

It appears the frontrunners at this point are – no surprise – veterans Matt Crouse and David Goforth, along with juniors Austin Wright and R.J. Hively, both newcomers to the program. If there is a top four for the three-man weekend rotation, you'd be safe to believe those are the candidates as of now.

Of course, there are five weekly starters needed since many weeks there are two midweek games along with the three weekend games. So veterans Matt Tracy and Eric Callender might be ones to also consider there, along with freshmen Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, at least at this point. As mentioned several times, veterans Brett Huber and Jake Morgan, along with returnee Trent Rothlin, give Ole Miss a stronger bullpen than last season.

Here are the pitching numbers from the weekend:

Crouse is a leader for the opening game start

Matt Crouse: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts

David Goforth: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Austin Wright: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

R.J. Hively: 2 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Bobby Wahl: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Mike Mayers: 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeouts

Trent Rothlin: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts

Brett Huber: 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts

Eric Callender: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts

Jake Morgan: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts

Matt Tracy: 2 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts

Blair Wright: 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Weston Hoekel: 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Casey Greene: 2 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Brooks Oursler: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 2 walk, 2 strikeouts

J.A. Scott: 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts

Scott Weathersby: 2 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Austin Hartzog: 1.2 innings, 2 runs, 2 hits, 5 walks, 1 strikeout

Back in Division I

Hively was a member of the Cal State-Fullerton program out of high school. After an injury-plagued freshman season, he transferred to Santa Ana (Junior) College to pitch. Now he's back in Division I college baseball at Ole Miss and in the mix to be one of the starting pitchers; certainly one that's being counted on heavily this season.

The 6-foot-1, 202-pound right-hander said it was good to be back in game action this weekend.

"I was a little rusty," said Hively, who had a 2.70 ERA last fall in 20 innings pitched. "I've been working on a lot of different mechanical stuff, and it was good to finally be able to put it into a game situation."

Hively said since fall ball ended in late October, he's been active in making sure his pitching is the best it can be. And that has meant digging deep into what he's doing when he is on the mound and in preparation.

"Throughout the fall I pieced it together, and after that I really tore down my mechanics and started from scratch again. Just staying back and changing that some," he said. "I'd get very front-side heavy, and I'd fall off real bad to the first base side. So just being more balanced when I land was big. My bullpens have been great lately. I really only felt I threw mediocre Saturday, even though the results were actually better than that."

Hively had been in more of a relief role prior to coming to Ole Miss and welcomes the change to what appears to be a starter's role for the Rebels.

"It's a different process than relieving, and I'm a little more used to relieving," said Hively, who had five saves in 21 appearances and a 5-4 record at Santa Ana last season. "I like the challenge of being able to start and it be my game that I'm pitching and not just coming in and filling in. But I'll do whatever is needed for the team."

Hively said the entire pitching staff is competitive and looks forward to the season with great anticipation.

"We're ready to start," he said. "We're getting close to the games. You can see everybody has turned it up a notch. You've got to do that if you want to play."

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