Midweek Start

As a freshman last year, Sam Smith pitched in 13 games for Ole Miss with nine starts. He had a 5.8 ERA and a 2-3 record in 35.2 innings.

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Nothing particularly impressive but a solid first season as mainly a midweek starter and also pitching some in relief.

He's 6-foot-4, 225-pounds, so he has the size and strength that's become a norm for many pitchers in the Ole Miss baseball program.

Smith hails from Lake Charles, La., and attended Barbe High School, the Louisiana powerhouse baseball program that's produced a number of Division I baseball players, including current Rebel Tanner Mathis.

Today at 4 p.m., Smith gets his first chance of 2013 for the 3-0 Rebels as they host 0-4 Tennessee-Martin. The Skyhawks lost at Southeastern Louisiana three times last weekend and lost to Southern Illinois at home Tuesday night.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco is looking forward to seeing Smith in action again this season and believes he will be one of the key components in a talented and deep pitching staff.

"He had a good January and maybe just a so-so fall," Bianco said. "He's worked really hard and looks like a different guy this January and February and through the intrasquads that he pitched in. He's always had the command, but Coach (Carl) Lafferty and T.J. (Beam) have really worked with him to be down in the zone, and his breaking ball is much improved. We're excited to run him out there."

Bianco said there were two or three options within the pitching staff that he and his coaches could have gone to today, but Smith was one of the obvious choices.

"We just thought he was the right guy," Bianco said of the first midweek starter for 2013, given how things went over the weekend and who pitched in the impressive three-game sweep of TCU. "He's experienced, and there are some other guys we want to try to leave in the bullpen and see if we can develop them that way."

Obviously that's what a lot of the early-going is all about, developing players and pitchers and seeing who fits in where during what is always a long season of many games and opportunities.

Smith said he's excited to get back out there and be a better pitcher the second time around than when he was a college rookie last year. One of his appearances last season was against these Skyhawks.

"I pitched against them last year, but I really don't know much about them ," he said. "I'm just looking forward to going out there and pitching again."

Former Ole Miss pitcher Craig Rodriguez is a volunteer coach with Tennessee-Martin this season.

Today is the lone midweek game of this first week of the season. The Rebels host Rhode Island three times this weekend with games at 4 p.m., 1 p.m., and 1:30 p.m.

Rebel Baseball Notes:

• Ole Miss moved up in the national rankings after a weekend sweep of No. 12 TCU. The Rebels are ranked as high as No. 8 (Baseball America) and are also ranked 14th (Perfect Game), 16th (Collegiate Baseball) and 18th (NCBWA).

• The Rebels are coming off a series sweep of No. 12 TCU to open the season. It is the first time Ole Miss has swept a ranked team in the opening weekend in program history. It also marks the first time the Rebels have posted a sweep of a ranked team since taking three games from No. 5 LSU in the 2010 season.

• Senior RHP Brett Huber became the career saves leader in the season opener, closing out the game against TCU. He also picked up his second save of the season on Saturday and has 28 saves for his career.

• Junior catcher Stuart Turner came up with a memorable hit for his first as a Rebel, belting out a grand slam in the first inning of Sunday's game to power Ole Miss to the sweep of TCU.

• Rebel relievers allowed only one run through a combined 12.0 innings of work over the TCU series.

• Ole Miss junior Bobby Wahl was named the SEC Pitcher of the Week following the sweep of the Horned Frogs.

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