Three-Game Special

Cliff Godwin was looking forward to the arrival of UNC-Wilmington's baseball team Thursday night. And with good reason.

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The veteran assistant coach, who has been at Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, LSU, and Central Florida, got his first college coaching assignment with the Seahawks. Godwin helped lead UNC-Wilmington to the program's first Colonial Athletic Association Championship and an appearance in the 2004 NCAA Regional Championship.

It was Seahawk head coach Mark Scalf that gave Godwin his first opportunity to coach on the collegiate level, and Scalf remains head coach at UNC-W today.

"Coach Scalf was nice enough to hire me when I was a high school coach. He gave me an opportunity to get into college baseball. We had a great year there, won the conference championship, and lost in the Regional Championship to East Carolina, which is my alma mater. So it was a great year and I learned a lot from Coach Scalf. Lot of fond memories, and North Carolina is my home state."

Godwin said Ole Miss fans will see a team that works hard and is fundamentally sound in UNC-W.

"They're blue collar, they're scrappy. They get some very good players, and they like to develop them. They normally have decent team speed, and they like to put pressure on a defense from an offensive standpoint. Pitching-wise they like to pound the strike zone and put the ball in play." UNC-Wilmington opened the first weekend of the season with a 2-1 record after facing the Ohio Bobcats in a three-game series. Wilmington was led at the plate by Andrew Cain, who hit .571 with two runs scored. Tyler Molinaro hit .357 with a home run and a team-leading four RBI. The Seahawks played one midweek contest early this week, falling to NC State by a score of 10-0.

The Seahawks are scheduled to start to left-handers and a right-hander this weekend. Sophomore LHP Mat Batts will be on the mound today, while junior LHP Tyler DeLoach will go Saturday, and freshman RHP Jordan Ramsey Sunday.

Godwin, at Ole Miss since coming from Central Florida in June, said ironically he had nothing to do with scheduling the Seahawks for Ole Miss.

"They were already on the schedule," he said. "I had no influence on the 2012 schedule whatsoever."

As for the Rebels, God win said he is pleased with the offensive progress. But he says the Rebels aren't there yet.

"Last Friday night we faced a really good arm, an SEC-type Friday night guy in (Andrew) Mitchell)," he said. "I thought we did a great job battling him, getting his pitch count up, and getting to him. We had some big hits. (Alex Yarbrough) had the two-run homer that was huge. We had four two-out RBI hits that first night. That was huge.

"Sunday I thought we did a pretty good job against their starter, but when they brought the submarine guy in, I think we were a little anxious because we were down. When you're anxious against a submarine guy throwing 80 miles an hour, that's not good. We didn't have a lot of good at-bats up and down the next three innings against him. On Tuesday against Arkansas State, I thought it was a solid job."

Godwin is watching for progress, and he sees the Rebels continuing to improve offensively. That's, of course, the way he wants it as a lengthy season of many games has only begun.

"Are we clicking on all cylinders? Not even close. I think the best is yet to come, and our guys are working at it. You don't necessarily want to be playing your best baseball this time of year. If you are, you're probably not going to be playing your best at the end. And that's when we want to be playing our best baseball."

To the point of the late innings of the second game of the year, the Rebels' only loss to date, Godwin said a combination of teaching and time will help that.

Preston Overbey
File Photo

"No. 1 is when a guy's throwing slow, you want to make him elevate the baseball. I thought we chased some pitches down out of the zone on Sunday. That's compounded by the fact that you're down and you're trying to (come back). If our guys were doing anything, they were trying too hard. The more times you get put in that situation, and the more times we come from behind, then when they're put in those situations, they're not going to be as anxious anymore."

Godwin's been around the college game for a while at various locales on the baseball map. At Vanderbilt and LSU, he spent time on Swayze Field in the visiting dugout. He's finally a part of a home weekend series at Ole Miss – as an Ole Miss coach.

"I always like being at home," he said. "We've got the best student section in the country, and also all the great fans we have. It's always nice to be at home."

Progressing and Contributing

Preston Overbey went 3-for-4 against Arkasnas State Tuesday in the Rebels' 8-1 win. The sophomore third baseman/first baseman continues to progress during his college career.

"I felt great at the plate (Tuesday)," the Jackson, Tenn., native said. "Me and Coach Godwin have been working a whole lot on my stance, my approach, just my whole at-bats I've been going through. So that's helped a lot."

Overbey said this year as compared to last year is better for him in every way.

"I feel like it's helped me a lot with my consistency," he said. "That's what I've been working at a whole bunch, just being consistent every day with the game."

And either position is fine with him, as long as he's playing. He wore the yellow shirt Thursday in practice, signifying the best defensive player from the day before.

"I just want to be wherever the coaches and players want me to be," Overbey said. "I just want to be on the field. I worked this fall and in the preseason at different positions. Coach Godwin's worked with me a lot, and Coach (Stephen) Head's worked with me at first base a lot. It's just becoming more natural everywhere I'm at."

Another change this season from last year is the fact that he has been reunited with younger brother Jake, who is a freshman on the team.

"It's awesome," he said of playing again on the same team with Jake. "Of course, the other day when he was playing short and I was playing third, it reminded me of the high school days. It's great playing with my brother at Ole Miss."

Preston said Jake is making strides in the college game already.

"He's having a great spring so far. He's improved a lot. He's gotten the hang of it. He's where he needs to be right now, and he's improving."

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