Needed Assistance

Ole Miss was short-handed when it came to left-handed pitchers last season. Austin Blunt is one answer to that.

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The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Howard College product from Mesquite Poteet High School will help a pitching staff that wasn't only few in number when it came to left-handed pitchers but lost the only two with any substantial innings.

Dylan Chavez, who had one more year of eligibility remaining, was drafted in the 14th round by the Red Sox and turned pro. Jon Andy Scott was a senior who graduated.

Ironically for the Texan, who attended Ole Miss' games in the College Station Regional two weeks ago as a spectator, it was the Rebels' arch-rival, Mississippi State, that Blunt turned down to pitch.

"It came down to Ole Miss and Mississippi State," Blunt said. "I caught a lot of heat for that. My first visit was Mississippi State. They asked me what my other visits were, and I told them the next week I was going to Ole Miss. They didn't like to hear that. They tried to talk me out of it. I definitely made the right decision, and I'm glad to be here."

Blunt will arrive in Oxford to start the second semester of summer school. From that point on, it's all about working to contribute to a Rebel team in 2013 that will need his assistance.

"Coach (Carl) Lafferty called me in the summer and we started building a relationship and a foundation," Blunt said. "I really liked him. I visited (Oxford) the Georgia football weekend and fell in love with the campus, with the coaching staff, and I felt comfortable. That's the way you have to feel."

Blunt felt good about his season at Howard. The Hawks were good but fell short of their goals. One contributing factor could have been that Blunt was not available to pitch the final six weeks.

"I had a good season on the mound. Did well," he said. "Just filled the zone and threw strikes. I was hurt the last six weeks of the season. I had a swollen rotater cuff, which sounds a lot more serious than it really was. (Not pitching) was a precautionary thing."

Blunt was ready to pitch again had his team advanced further.

"I was back on a throwing program getting ready to go to our World Series, the junior college World Series, and we lost in our regional championship game," he said. "I was ready to throw again. I'm completely healthy now and ready to be at summer school at Ole Miss on June 25."

Here's how Blunt described himself as a pitcher.

"I'm more of a strike thrower. I throw high 80s with a slider and a changeup," he said. "Really pound the zone with a slider and I have a good changeup, I think. My best pitch is my fast ball. You've got to throw strikes at this level. That's the main thing."

He was throwing well until being sidelined by the injury situation.

"I was a starter until I was hurt," he said. "I was 5-1 on the year and with an ERA in the 2s. I was 7-1 as a freshman with a 2.00 ERA."

All that's in the past now, and it's on to Oxford. He watched the Rebels play in an NCAA Regional. He's ready to pitch in one himself next spring.

"My two roommates this summer are also junior college guys – (catcher) Stuart Turner and (shortstop) Lance Wilson," he said. "I haven't met them yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready to be there and get going."

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