Back In The Swing

Matt Snyder was his usual bubbly self following Ole Miss' 4-2 win against Memphis Tuesday. He likely would still have been that way had he not gone 2 for 2 with a double, an RBI, a run scored, and 2 walks.

But for Snyder, it's been a tough calendar year. It's coming up on a year that the Rebels' personable power-hitting first baseman did what he always does – go all out. But that particular time it cost him dearly.

Snyder fielded a ground ball the first Friday night in March last year against Tulane in New Orleans. As he dove for the bag to try to get the Green Wave runner out, he dislocated his shoulder. It would cost him playing first base the rest of the season and would require surgery as soon as the Rebels returned from the NCAA Regional in Charlottesville, Va.

Then in a January intrasquad, Snyder dove for another ball while playing first base. His repaired shoulder took the force of the impact again, and Snyder lay lifeless for a few moments and was attended to. The medical evaluation was there would again be no more first base for a while.

Times haven't always been easy for Matt Snyder
Bruce Newman
Tuesday against the Tigers was a good day for Snyder at the designated hitter position. According to the junior from Centreville, Va., first base will still have to wait.

"This weekend it took me a little while to start seeing the ball," said Snyder, who had just three hits total in the Rebels' first three games. "That's going to happen at the beginning of a season, especially if you haven't faced pitchers in like nine months. I'm not trying to make excuses, but it's just one of those things where you've got to get your timing down, just start seeing the ball, and things like that."

With the Rebels leading 1-0 Tuesday against Memphis, Snyder's two-out double got things rolling in the bottom of the fifth inning for his team. Miles Hamblin came up and singled to score Snyder. Jordan King then followed with a double of his own to score Hamblin. With three runs on the scoreboard, the Rebels had all the runs they'd need in this one.

Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said Snyder is performing well at the plate.

"The more at bats he gets, the better he's going to get," he said. "But he already looks terrific."

"I had worked out a couple of things (Monday and Tuesday)," Snyder said. "It's really starting to pay off. I was pulling off the ball too much. My timing was off. I didn't get my foot down. And now when I got in there (Tuesday for the game), I felt so much better after working on those things."

Snyder said he knew the weekend's struggles likely wouldn't last. But he wanted to make sure of it.

"It was cage work," he said. "I tried to keep my shoulders level and work on getting my foot down. The biggest thing was working in the dugout, watching the pitcher pitch, and getting your timing off him. When you do that, you see the ball so much better.

"Today I didn't chase any changeups. I felt a lot better today. And I'm going to keep working on it, and hopefully it keeps getting better and better with time. There are still a couple of things to tweak in there, but it's still going good."

Snyder said he has been impressed with the Rebels' offense as a whole.

"But I think we can do even better," he said.

Snyder said his shoulder is 100 percent, as far as he's concerned.

"There's no pain at all. It feels awesome," he said. "The brace I have to wear, I'm still getting used to that. But I feel great and haven't had any problems with it."

And returning to first base?

"I don't know about real soon," Snyder said. "It's one of those things we're going to continue to work on. I think there's a great chance of me getting back in there probably around halfway through the season, or maybe just a little later than that. But I'll be back over there."

Jordan King had a RBI double Tuesday
Bruce Newman
The Rebels (4-0) host Arkansas State today at 3 p.m. ASU picked up its first win of the season Tuesday, an 8-4 victory against Murray State.

Starting on the mound for Ole Miss will be freshman right-hander Bobby Wahl of Springfield, Va.

Bianco had announced earlier that junior right-hander R.J. Hively would get the nod. But things changed.

"Bobby's going to start," Bianco said. "We originally picked Hively to start, but after warming up twice (over the weekend), he woke up Monday with a little tenderness in the elbow. (Tuesday) he felt a lot better. If it was later in the season and if it was a conference game, he probably would go. But there's no reason to push him, especially as a starter. Because a lot of times the assumption is he might go out and pitch five or six innings.

"He still may pitch (today). He may pitch an inning. But we don't want to overdo it too early where we might end up losing a couple of weeks when we don't need to. So Bobby Wahl will start."

Another freshman made his debut as a Rebel Tuesday against Memphis. Right-hander Mike Mayers relieved starter Matt Tracy to start the seventh inning, and gave up a double in that inning while getting the other three batters he faced out.

In the eighth he allowed two base hits, then got a fly out. Bianco relieved him at the moment, sending Jake Morgan into the contest to finish things up.

"It was good to see Mike Mayers pitch. He did terrific," Bianco said. "It's not easy going out on the bump, especially for the first time (in college). He had his normal stuff, fast ball, breaking ball, and threw the ball in the strike zone. He was 88-90 with a 78 mile an hour curve ball. And that's the things you look for. You look for first command; do they command the zone like they normally do.? And then their stuff. Is it the same velocity or is it less? And sometimes it is, just because they're adrenalized and they're trying so hard. But he looked terrific today.

"Very composed and even with first and second and no outs (in the eighth), he got the first out (before giving way to Morgan). I just felt with the (Memphis) three and four hole guys coming in, it's a little different in college. Ideally your closer will come in to start the inning. The middle relievers will come in in the jams, and the closer will come in to start the ninth. The way we use them, they come in to put out the fires. So whenever that is - he can throw three innings, he can throw one inning - whenever the game is on the line. So to me, I thought that was the right time to bring him in."

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