On The Mound

Freshman right-hander Preston Morrison is the scheduled starter for Texas Christian in Friday's 12:35 p.m. NCAA Regional game against Ole Miss. He's not the Horned Frog ace. But statistically he's their best.

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Morrison is 9-1, has eight starts and 19 appearances on the season and a team-best 1.73 ERA. He's also logged the most innings with 98.2 so far.

Morrison was tough on the Rebels in 3.1 innings of relief work in the second of two games that season-opening weekend in Fort Worth. TCU, now 36-19 on the season, won game two 5-3, and the Rebels had all their runs by the time Morrison entered in the fifth inning.

The Rebels will counter with their ace, sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl, with a 6-3 record and a 2.26 ERA in 87.2 innings.

Ole Miss has had its scoring woes lately. Offensive coach Cliff Godwin believes his players will get the job done.

"The one thing I can say is we've obviously faced a lot of great pitchers recently, and we're prepared to face anybody," said Godwin as the Rebels, 35-24, practiced in Oxford Tuesday.

Godwin preaches winning above all else, and he said scoring runs is one product of that.

"I don't care how many runs we score, I just want to win," he said. "I've told our guys, if it takes us ten runs, that's how many runs we need to score. If it takes one run, that's how many we need. Obviously the past few weeks we haven't put a lot of runs on the board. It's about winning games, however you can do it."

Godwin knows the teams they've faced recently, for the most part, have taken care of their offensive opportunities when they had them.

"You look at a team like Vandy, against us they didn't have a lot of hits. But when they got guys on base, they got hits," he said. "Timely hits, two-out RBIs. It's about the guy touching home plate."

Godwin said the players remain confident and the production will follow.

"I don't worry about them from a confidence standpoint," he said. "We just go about our business every single day and doing what we're doing. We're going to be fine."

Godwin is convinced that low-scoring games will be the norm this weekend as NCAA Tournament play begins. He points to last weekend when North Carolina State and North Carolina battled 0-0 into the 12th inning before UNC won 4-0 in the ACC Tournament.

Bousfield hit two homers this season, both against LSU
Bruce Newman

"You look across the Regional scoreboard this weekend and you're going to see 2-1, 3-2, 4-3 a lot more than you're going to see 10-2," he said. "The bats have changed the game, and there are a lot of quality arms out there."

They Call Him 'The Wizard of Boz'

Freshman center fielder Auston Bousfield has settled nicely into a prominent role with the Rebels in his first year of collegiate baseball. The Oakland, Fla., product with blazing speed and a rifle for an arm said he feels comfortable in the college game.

"As the season went on, I definitely gained more confidence," he said. "More at-bats, seeing SEC pitching, best conference in the country, playing every day in center field. Just getting used to everything. The more the season went along, the more confident I became. Just knowing you can compete out there with these guys. I think I had a pretty solid first year."

Godwin said he sees some resemblance in the Rebels' first-team All-Southeastern Conference junior second baseman and the freshman centerfielder.

"I compare Boz, and I wasn't here, to Yarbs' freshman year," he said of Alex Yarbrough. "A skinny guy that got some hits but got overlooked some. Bousfield is going to be one of the best players in the country in the next two years. It's just about getting stronger and being able to handle the bat. When guys throw hard, he's one of our best hitters just because he's got a short swing and he can get the barrel to the baseball. He's feeling pretty confident right now, which is a good thing as we go into a Regional."

Bousfield, who has batted .285 this season with 20 RBI, including 10 doubles, a triple, and two home runs, said it's been tough not scoring as much lately in most games.

"It's definitely frustrating," he said. "It's more aggravating knowing you've had a lot of opportunities you haven't capitalized on."

Bousfield said the Rebels remain confident, even though they haven't produced as many runs.

"Coach Godwin's talked about it, and he's said nothing's changed from our swings whenever we were scoring a lot of runs to now. So I don't think it's really a different mindset. We just have to keep going out there and trying to hit balls hard. Eventually they'll fall for us with guys in scoring position."

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