By: Jeff Roberson
HOOVER, Ala. - After winning three games in three days at the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Ole Miss had Friday off from baseball games. So the Rebels spent some time with a light practice at Samford University's baseball park. Here are some quotes from Saturday starting pitcher Chad Smith and third baseman Colby Bortles.
The Ole Miss Rebels and Texas A&M Aggies play at Noon Saturday in a single elimination contest.
Chad Smith on playing at Hoover Met in the SEC Tournament having grown up in the area and attending McAdory High School: “It’s exciting. I’ve been coming to it for a long time. It will be a real honor to go out there play on that field.”
Smith on how he is feeling, having last pitched last Saturday at Texas A&M: “I’m feeling good. I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow. It’s another day, an elimination game. I want to go out there and give my team a chance to win and get to the championship game.”
Smith on what he will do Friday: “I will throw a little bit and maybe throw a little short work to get off the mound before tomorrow. That’s about it.”
Smith on dreaming of pitching in the SEC Tournament at Hoover Met: “That’s always been the goal, to play at a SEC school and continue my career from there. It’s a great opportunity tomorrow to get out there and play in front of some hometown people.”
Smith on his week leading up to this moment as his team won three games: “I pitched last Saturday, so I knew coming in I wouldn’t throw early because I didn’t have enough rest. Just keep my routine of throwing before the games and cheering my teammates on and get deep in the tournament so I can throw. Fortunately we did that.”
Smith on his season: “Started off I thought OK then hit a rocky road. But as of late I believe I’ve figured it out a little bit and been throwing well lately.”
Colby Bortles on hitting: “We’re really swinging it well. J.B. Superman (Woodman) swings it well every game. The bats behind him are really helping us out. They actually have to pitch to him. (Henri) Lartigue has the best average on the team. That helps him out when I’m behind him and they have to pitch to him. So I think that’s good.”
Bortles on the improvement throughout the season of this offense: “We’re really clicking on all cylinders right now. Coach (Mike Bianco) has finally found the lineup he likes. In the beginning of the year, we all were saying there are so many pieces to this lineup and we can be really good offensively. Moving toward the SEC Tournament, I think everybody can see the offense we have.”
Bortles on experience at this time of year: “Experience definitely helps you win games. The older you are the more you’ve seen and the more you’ve done and the more you know. So having older guys in the field helping each other out helps carry your team to victory.”
Bortles on the pitching staff, especially the younger pitchers, this season: “In the fall you’re not really sure what the (younger) pitchers will turn out to be when they pitch. They got hit around a little bit. But they’re key for us moving forward in the bullpen, and we’ve really loved how they’ve done.”
Bortles on him and J.B. Woodman being from Florida, playing in a CWS, being here three years, and helping to carry the team offensively: “Freshman year we looked up to Will Allen and Austin Anderson. I looked up to Austin Anderson playing third. I try to do everything he did. It’s an honor being named a (tri) captain at the beginning of the year (along with J.B. Woodman and Matt Denny). We just try to lead by example. We’re not the type of guys to get in someone’s face when something goes wrong. But we can still do that. But we just try to live by example and do things right.”
Bortles on if the team talks about hosting or being a national seed: “We don’t talk about it at all. The main thing is we accomplished one of our goals and that was to have 40 wins. (This week) we wanted to prove we weren’t the seventh best team in the conference. I think we’ve done that so far. But there’s more baseball to play and there’s more games to win.”