Watson, the athletic and talented infielder from Desoto Central High School who can also play in the outfield, proved he can also hit in his debut.
In Ole Miss’ 9-4 season-opening win against William & Mary in Oxford, Watson went 2-for-3 with both hits being doubles. He drove in two runs and he scored two runs himself. In another at-bat he walked.
Watson said he really wasn’t rattled in class when he got the message.
“I tried to keep my composure a little bit. But I was excited,” he said. “There were some other players in there, and they were having fun tweeting at me.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said it was an excellent start for Watson. And he started him for a reason.
“It was really because they were throwing a left-handed pitcher,” he said. “We knew we wanted to get Kyle a start. We were looking for opportunities earlyon for him to have success.”
Watson doubled in the second inning and scored later on a single by J.B. Woodman.
But it was in the eighth inning that his double drove in two runs that increased a precarious Ole Miss lead from 5-4 to a more manageable 7-4.
“In the dugout you have those jitters a little bit. Once you step between the lines, that all goes away,” Watson said. “You realize it’s just another baseball game.”
And after the two doubles?
“Excitement,” Watson said. “I was fortunate enough to be in the lineup tonight. I’m blessed that I was able to get some hits.”
His teammate, Scott Weathersby, who closed the last 2.2 innings, was impressed.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a freshman that composed on the first day,” Weathersby said of Watson.
The Rebels added two more runs in the eighth for the final margin of victory.
“Pretty good first day,” Bianco said. “Wasn’t the cleanest game or the best game. but we played well. It was nice to see guys come out aggressive.”
Weathersby said when he came in, he was just trying to right the ship.
“I was just trying to fill it up, get Evan (Anderson) out of the jam and keep our team going,” he said.
Ole Miss and William & Mary play a doubleheader Saturday. Game one is at 12 noon and game two follows 30 minutes after game one is complete.
Sam Smith starts on the mound the first game Saturday, and Austin Knight will catch. In game two, Brady Bramlett will start, and Henri Lartigue will catch.
* On true freshman Tate Blackman, who didn’t get a hit but played well at second base:
“I thought Tate Blackman swung it well and had some good at-bats.”
* On Christian Trent, who started and went five innings, allowing one run on six hits with six strikeouts and a walk:
“Trent wasn’t his best today, but certainly he made pitches when he had to. He didn’t have the slider today. One of the things that makes him so special is he’s able to make pitches and can get off the field. He can reach down and make the pitches when he needs to.”
* On Scott Weathersby:
“Scott came in at the end and does what Scott does.”
* On Evan Anderson:
“It’s a shame (he didn’t go longer), because it looked like he was in control. Baseball’s funny. An error and all of a sudden the game changes.”
* On W&M starter Jason Inghram:
“He’s good. He is a left-hander that won ten games last year. He’s talented and throws three pitches into the strike zone. He showed why he’s good and he handled the pressure and hung in there.”
* On a second-inning squeeze by Cameron Dishon that scored the Rebels’ second run and gave them a 2-1 lead that they did not relinquish:
“I thought it was the right time to do that. He gets the squeeze and did a good job.”
* On Austin Knight:
“A great game for Knight. I thought he caught great. Got a bunt down and got a big hit.”
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