Busy Week

It's still early, but we're seeing some trends from the Ole Miss baseball team, now ranked 16th nationally by Baseball America.

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Defensively, they seem to be solid. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They had four errors last weekend in three games, but three of them were on pickoff plays by pitchers.

They don't seem to get too rattled when things don't go well. They appear to be confident enough to bounce back. Like Sunday. A five-run fifth inning by UNC-Wilmington gave the visiting Seahawks a 5-4 lead.

The Rebels simply went back to work and scored at least one run in every inning the rest of the way while relief pitching, from Chris Ellis and Blair Wright, allowed nothing.

On The Mound

The starting pitchers were better in weekend two than in weekend one. Of course, there were only two games the first weekend, although all three starters pitched extensively as Mike Mayers relieved R.J. Hively in the game two finale at TCU.

Ellis was effective in his three innings Sunday against UNC-W. His improvement is apparent, especially from a strength and conditioning standpoint. Wright may be one that steps in and helps this season after somewhat of a journeyman career, all at Ole Miss.

Casey Mulholland continues to be another pitcher that we keep an eye on. We've seen his velocity rise as he continues to get stronger and also to distance himself from the two-year rehab process from surgery.

Hively was better in weekend two. The next couple of weekends against Miami (OH) and Houston will be keys to see where the senior is in the process. Solidly entrenched as a starter coming in, his fastball velocity has been a question mark, but his slider has been so effective they like him in the role. Teammates and coaches continue to comment on that, and opponents have a problem hitting it.

Dylan Chavez, the lone left-hander logging innings, is another one of those who has seen progress since fall and moved into a role of prominence with the staff. Brett Huber, after struggling at TCU, pitched better this past weekend. It isn't unexpected if he runs into some situations again where he is a bit inconsistent. That's been the way his career as a closer has gone, although he's been mostly effective.

Mayers, this past Sunday, hit 96 on the radar gun at least once. As he continues to grow and mature, that's a powerful and impressive guy to have as your Sunday starter. And he could potentially move up a day, as we see how things continue. But for now, Sundays appear to be in good hands with Mayers.

Bobby Wahl, SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week this week, is only going to get better, gain more confidence, and become more effective. Other than a couple of walks in the first inning against the Seahawks and just one hit in seven innings, he was nearly flawless throwing to the plate. He did make a couple of errors on pickoffs, but those may have had to do with first home game anxiety as much as anything.

Wahl, and any first-game Rebel starter for at least a while, will be compared to the likes of Drew Pomeranz and Lance Lynn. Right or wrong, that's how it goes when you are in that role and following current major leaguers. Wahl has the tools and the confidence to get the Rebels started off every series with a win, and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him. He will go up against the other team's best pitcher, and in the SEC that will always be a challenging night.

At The Plate And Behind It

Matt Snyder really came around last weekend with three hits each on Saturday and Sunday. It was only Friday when he went hitless that head coach Mike Bianco mentioned they needed to get Snyder going. They did or he did, or some combination of both. Snyder's effectiveness for this team is with his bat, and more of what we saw Saturday and Sunday will take them far.

The catcher position in the fall was a big question mark. Not that there wasn't talent there, but who would emerge. Will Allen took the spot in the preseason and continues to do the things to help his team win. His pitchers have commented how effective he's been for them. So has his coach.

Blake Newalu
Bruce Newman

"He's steady. He does a great job behind the plate," Bianco said. "He handles the pitchers well. He's blocked everything. He's done a terrific job."

When Snyder isn't in the DH role and is playing first, that spot has gone to Zach Kirksey. Bianco likes both in the role, and he's been pleased with Kirksey's play.

"(On Sunday) after sitting two days against the left-handers (from UNC-Wilmington), he comes out and swings the bat great right off the bat," Bianco said. "He gave us some life there. It's neat that there are different offensive stars. It just seems like from day to day there are different ones, and that's what you need to have a good offense."

Tanner Mathis has been in the leadoff role most games this season, like last season. He was for all three games last weekend. He actually reached base five times via walk during the last two games.

"He's getting on base and he's done a terrific job," Bianco said. "Those are the subtle things you'll see that Coach (Cliff) Godwin's done. That was a big thing (Mathis) needed to work on. Everybody knew he could hit. He's getting on base more, and as an offense collectively I think you're seeing more of that."

And In The Outfield; Infield, Too

The outfield continues to be exactly what was predicted, a talented, swift, defensive-minded set that gets the job done. Mathis in left and Auston Bousfield in center have pretty much locked into their positions, at least so far. Senquez Golson has made a move the past week, has improved at the plate, and has given the Rebels, along with freshman Will Jamison, two outstanding options in right.

Austin Anderson and Blake Newalu share the shortstop position, and that may continue for a while as both have been effective and neither has truly emerged. Andrew Mistone, with five hits last weekend, has settled in at third base and been more than solid at that spot. Preston Overbey has as well, either at third or first, but his bat has been a bit silent lately.

There isn't a more effective second baseman in the SEC than Yarbrough. He had his second home run of the season Sunday and continues to make all the plays in the field.

Sam Smith, a freshman right-hander, will start today against Memphis. If there's a need on the weekend, Smith could move into a role there. But if not, he's a valuable starter to have in the midweek.

Smith makes his second start - and third appearance - of the season when he takes the mound today. Smith picked up his first win in his first career start last Tuesday against Arkansas State.

Smith worked 4.0 innings and held the Red Wolves to one run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in the outing. Smith has a 1.69 ERA on the season and has worked a total of 5.1 innings after making his collegiate debut in relief in the season-opener at TCU.

Memphis is 3-3 and is coming off winning two of three over Kennesaw State this past weekend. The Tigers dropped the series opener before coming back to win the final two games.

Memphis lost its season opening series to SIU-Edwardsville two games to one in its only other action this season.

Adam McClain leads the Tigers at the plate with a .417 average, while Derrick Thomas and Jacob Wilson lead the team with a home run and five RBI each.

Junior left-hander Michael Wills, who is slated to start the game on the mound, has seen 0.2 innings of work this season and allowed two runs on three hits with a strikeout in that time.

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