Ole Miss baseball is now in its third week of intrasquad scrimmages. We caught up with senior Colby Bortles and sophomore Ryan Olenek before the blue squad's 8-4 win over the red squad.
By: Brian Scott Rippee
After going through the SEC as a true freshman, what are you trying to work on as a hitter going into your second year?
"I'm pretty much sticking with the same approach. I put on about 30 pounds so if I stay with the same approach it is going to be a little different.
With Errol Robinson leaving has Coach Bianco talked to you about a position switch? are you going to play infield or outfield? are you comfortable with both?
"No word on what's happening yet. I am just going to do whatever helps the team the most and wherever they need me. I feel comfortable wherever on the field."
What was it like facing some of the nation's best pitching in the SEC as a freshman? Do you feel like that will be invaluable experience going into the next couple of years?
"It was pretty cool. In summer ball the year before it was kind of the same thing so it wasn't anything new to me. I was excited to be out there. I think when they gave me a chance in the first series as a freshman last year, that is something that I'll never forget. That has helped me a lot."
What has your impression been of this freshman class early on?
"They can play. They have a lot of really good talents and we are working with them to help them find out what it is like to be an Ole Miss Rebel."
Heading into your last go around, how much of a veteran presence do you think you are on this team with how much you've played the last three years?
"I think has been a big a big aspect is playing more games than anyone on the team. I think the big thing is that the leadership comes from playing in games and being a part of teams that went to Omaha and played in the postseason. I think that has a lot to do with it."
You improved a lot from two years ago to last year in seeing off-speed pitches and breaking balls. Is that something you worked on and how do you feel like you handled that?
"I got to a point last year where I didn't get a whole lot of fastballs so I had to change my approach and look for something elevated whether it is as fastball or breaking ball or anything. I think that was a big change in my game last year and hopefully, it continues this year."
Do you think that helped you become more well-rounded as a hitter when they stopped throwing you so many fastballs?
"No doubt. I went through a slump when that first happened, but I bounced back and worked on it and came back stronger. I think that has made me a lot better hitter recognizing pitches and seeing pitches up?
What is something you're trying to work on this offseason going into next year?
"I think the big thing is trying to keep my strikeouts down and trying to hit pitches early in the count so I don't get into two-strike scenarios. But I think the big thing is try to hit doubles and home runs. I think that's the team wants from me. I think that's what coach wants from me so that's what I am trying to do."
What are your early impressions of the freshmen that have come in?
"Really good. Really energetic. A lot of them want to win and I think that was the bright side of seeing them. Anything we do, any competition we do a lot of energy and wanting to win. It's good."
I know y'all have some young talent, but do you feel like you have the pieces in place to have some of the same success you had last year?
"Yes. I think we should be as good or better than last year. I think we have the talent same as the team last year, plus the freshmen coming in will add a big bonus for us."