Pizza Bowl Time

Sikes Orvis has been a sponge when it comes to learning this fall. The freshman from Orlando, Fla., says his first college fall ball session has been productive.

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"For me I've felt pretty good so far," said Orvis, one of the new class of Rebels ranked third nationally by Collegiate Baseball and fifth by Baseball America. "Coach (Cliff) Godwin and all the coaches have helped me. Being at first base, Matt Snyder has taught me a lot of things, just seeing how he works and goes about things. I'm just watching the other guys and learning from them. So I've felt pretty good so far."

Orvis likely projects as a first baseman for Ole Miss and maybe "the" first baseman come spring. Time will tell.

"In high school I mainly played third base and caught," said Orvis, a Freedom High School alumnus. "But over the summer I played first base. That's where Coach (Carl) Lafferty saw me and recruited me, and that's where I played the most. Early in the fall Coach Godwin had me working at catcher just to see what I could do back there. As the intrasquads picked up, they had me over there at first base."

At the plate, Orvis has had a solid but not necessarily spectacular fall. Likely to help in the Rebels' home run department, he has only one round-tripper this fall. Some of that is a product of changes in his approach and his efforts to get things right.

"I've worked with Coach Godwin and he's been teaching me different techniques with my swing to generate more power," Orvis said. "And working with (strength and conditioning) Coach (Rich) Levy, too. I feel like my power's gotten better since I've been out here."

He's dropped some weight and gotten into better condition during three-plus months in Oxford.

"I came in at 6-2, 230, and now I'm 6-2, 218," he said. "So I've dropped about 12 pounds since August. It's the conditioning, and I've been sticking to the diet plans Coach Levy has me on really well. I guess the fruits of my labor have been coming out a little bit."

Sikes Orvis
Jeff Roberson

Orvis said he believes the Rebels have some power on the team, and he's seen signs of it this fall.

"We haven't hit a lot of home runs, but a lot of guys have hit long balls, like Preston Overbey has hit a lot of them to the wall," he said. "Zach Kirksey's been tearing up both gaps, things like that. Our power hasn't been up, but our contact and quality at-bats have been really high."

He attributes good pitching as one major reason the Rebel bats have been somewhat quiet at times.

"Pitching's a lot different from high school," Orvis said. "Facing guys like Bobby Wahl, R.J. (Hively), (Brett) Huber, Mike Mayers. Even freshmen like Hawtin Buchanan and Josh Laxer have been throwing really well, too."

As fall ball closes and the semester moves toward holiday time, Orvis is aware he needs to stay the course that he's been on this semester.

"The big thing will be to go home (at the end of the semester) and keep working out and doing the things I've been doing," he said. "Keep running, keep hitting. I don't want to lose anything I've been working toward here."

This week's traditional Pizza Bowl series, which begins today, signals the end of fall ball for the Rebels. The series will be a best two of three games with the winning team eating pizza while the losing team runs. Orvis said the players are ready to compete at a high level as the intrasquads come to a close.

"I saw (the Pizza Bowl) last year when I came up here," he said. "I saw the decisive game. I was talking to the guys and they say it gets real intense. So I'm looking forward to getting after it."

The Pizza Bowl draft was held Monday with seniors Blair Wright and Matt Snyder serving as team captains. Team Wright will be the Blue squad and Team Snyder will be the Red squad. Here are the teams:

Team Wright

Austin Anderson

Tanner Bailey

Chris Ellis

John Gatlin

Brett Huber

Will Jamison

Jimel Judon

Austin Knight

Tanner Mathis

Mike Mayers

Dustin McWilliams

Casey Mulholland

Sikes Orvis

Jake Overbey

Preston Overbey

Jon Andy Scott

Kody Sepulveda

Sam Smith

Blair Wright

Team Snyder

Will Allen

Auston Bousfield

Hawtin Buchanan

Dylan Chavez

Casey Greene

Aaron Greenwood

Austin Hartzog

Taylor Hightower

R.J. Hively

Zach Kirksey

Josh Laxer

Andrew Mistone

Blake Newalu

Chase Reeves

Matt Snyder

Austin Sullivan

Bobby Wahl

Scott Weathersby

Alex Yarbrough

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