Fall Break

Bobby Wahl has been an interested observer during fall baseball for Ole Miss. The ace of the Rebels' current staff will remain that as the fall turns into winter, and preseason practices begin in late January.

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The junior right-hander is letting his arm recover from a long season of Ole Miss baseball and a summer pitching for Team USA.

"I've been hanging out, lifting, running, working on nutrition, doing everything I can outside of throwing, getting better as a person and as a baseball player," said Wahl, who finished the 2012 season with a team-best 2.55 ERA and a 7-4 record in 17 appearances, all starts. "From the amount of innings I logged in the season, spring and summer, Coach (Mike) Bianco decided it would be a good idea just to take some time off and let my arm ease back into things."

Junior right-hander Mike Mayers, who was the second starter for the Rebels in 2012, has done the same thing. Both are throwing some but likely won't see any intrasquad action the last couple of weeks of fall ball.

After the Rebels' season ended at the College Station Regional in June, Wahl headed to join Team USA. He'd been selected in late April. The summer with Team USA, which had them playing in Cuba and Europe, was unforgettable, according to Wahl.

"Team USA was an amazing experience," he said. "Just everything about it, the travel, the people you meet, the lifelong relationships, the coaches, the staff, it was all way beyond my expectations. I was really happy to be able to wear the uniform. It was a blast."

So much so that it was hard to single out any one day or moment, he said. All things Team USA were memorable.

"You pretty much remember every single day," he said. "One of the biggest things for me was when they fitted us for uniforms and you see the ‘USA' on there, got your number, got your name on the back of it. It's like ‘Wow, this is really happening.' That's one of the things that will stick with me, along with many other memories."

He got to keep the uniform, too.

"My mom's working on that," he said of getting it framed. "It will probably be a Christmas present. So that will be cool."

Bobby Wahl
Bruce Newman

One snapshot of the summer came early in the schedule. Wahl said pitching in Havana was an overwhelming moment for him.

"The first night in Cuba, I got the opportunity to come in and get the save. That was an awesome experience," he said. "There were close to 30,000 people there. To be able to pitch in that environment was a whole lot of fun. And to get the save with all the guys cheering for you, that was pretty cool."

Wahl said his conditioning program, building strength and endurance to prepare for the 2013 Ole Miss season, has been important this fall. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder said it's been a real focus for him.

"I came in here about 185 pounds or so," he said. "I was pretty skinny. Now I'm up to 210 or whatever, and I never thought I'd see the day. With the program they've put in place for me, I owe it all to them."

He said it's been the Ole Miss baseball and athletics staff that gets all the credit.

"From pitching to school to being a more mature person, they've prepared me for life," he said. "They've allowed me to be the person I am today and a huge impact in my life."

As far as his actual pitching, Wahl said he's come a long way in two college seasons.

"I didn't have much of a breaking ball my freshman year, and last year it got better and better," he said. "This summer it was even better, and I'm really excited to throw that when I get back out there. Still working on a changeup, working on a curve ball, secondary stuff. I feel like my command's been great. In the SEC you have to learn to command all your pitches. Last year was huge for me, and I feel I can build on that."

Just as Wahl is scheduled to be a huge impact for the Rebels again in 2013, heading into his draft year as a junior.

"You've got to learn to control what you can control," he said. "Learning from the coaches and being here, it's been awesome. Baseball's a game. It's what we love to do. It's one day at a time. We're honestly trying to win the day. I think we've been doing that."

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