Allen, Rebels Ready To Rebound

Will Allen sat a few games with a fractured little finger on his throwing hand. He put to good use his time away from the field.


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"Honestly, sometimes good things happen from bad situations," said the sophomore catcher. "Obviously I didn't want to get hurt and all that. It allowed me to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective. I spent a lot of my time in the cages just watching other people hit and what they do. And taking mental at-bats during games. I honestly think it helped me with my approach and what I want to do at the plate. So far it's shone, and hopefully I can keep that up."

Allen is batting .320 in the 14 games he's played this season. He led the Rebels at the plate last week, hitting .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, a triple, four RBI and a pair of runs scored for a .706 slugging percentage. He also drew a walk and a hit-by-pitch for a .526 on base percentage.

Not bad for a guy who missed six games and a portion of another.

Allen is used to some setbacks. Late in fall ball his freshman year it was a knee.

"I banged up my knee and I wasn't allowed to catch," he said. "So they kind of threw me over there at first (base). I had no idea it was going to be as difficult as it was. I always thought it was just stand over there and catch the ball. I realized pretty quick you've got a big responsibility of keeping the ball in front of you. I mostly did that last year.

"Then I couldn't go play summer ball to get some innings behind the plate because I had a fractured or dislocated toe. I couldn't get those innings," he continued. "Being the catcher is one of the most important positions on the field. It's basically defense first. You've got to be able to catch the ball, keep it in front, throw runners out. Experience with games and in scrimmages has really helped."


Will Allen
Bruce Newman

Sunday was painful in another way for Allen. Not only did Ole Miss lose to Auburn 3-2, he was robbed of a home run. Tiger left fielder Cullen Wacker went up above the wall and caught what would have been a two-run shot by Allen in the fifth inning to make it 4-1 Ole Miss. But he caught it, so Ole Miss led 2-1 and would ultimately lose the game.

"Obviously I would like for it to have gone over," Allen said. "I knew at 3-0 (in the count) there was a good chance I'd get the green light. I got in the box and I was thinking I don't know if I really want to swing. Should I or should I not? I just kind of reacted. It was right down the middle and I put a good swing on it. I thought I hit it pretty good, but then I realized I hit it to a pretty deep part of the field and pretty high also. I was watching as I rounded first and I saw him time it pretty good. He came down with it and showed it to the umpire. It was frustrating, but that's baseball."

Tonight at 6:30 the Rebels (15-5) host Southern Mississippi (11-9). Allen hopes the Rebel offense, which didn't appear to be itself against Auburn all three days, finds that groove again beginning tonight.

"There was a lot of publicity about the offense and how we'd been swinging it and putting up 20 and 18 runs," he said. "We expected to do more than score eight (total) runs this weekend. But at the end of the day, you have to execute in certain situations, move the runners, get bunts down. A few more hits here and there and it's a different series."

Freshman right-hander Sam Smith is set to make his fifth start of the season - and sixth appearance - when he takes the mound. Smith is coming off his first loss of the season at Louisville a week ago. He's 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA through 20.0 innings of work. In his time on the mound, Smith has posted 16 strikeouts to only three walks and has allowed nine runs on 22 hits. Opponents are hitting .275 against him. Smith has made starts against Arkansas State, Memphis, UT-Martin and at Louisville to go along with a relief appearance in the season-opening win at No. 10 TCU.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a series loss to Murray State in Hattiesburg this past weekend. Southern Miss won the Saturday game 9-7, but dropped the Friday and Sunday games 11-6 and 6-4.

The Golden Eagles are led by freshman Mason Robbins at the plate with a .444 average. He has two home runs and 15 RBI. Leading the team in power is junior Blake Brown with three home runs and 21 RBI.

Sophomore RHP Boomer Scarborough takes the mound for the Golden Eagles, with a 1-0 record and a 1.83 ERA through four starts. He has worked 19.2 innings, allowing six runs on 12 hits with 13 walks and 13 strikeouts.


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