Baseball squad continues preseason drills

Satterwhite, Stone, and Bianco talk some baseball as the Rebels head toward weekend No. 2 of preseason intrasquad games.

Cody Satterwhite's name has been mentioned as a possible weekend starter for Ole Miss almost from the day he signed. Some of it is because the Rebels had some weekend spots open; some of it because Satterwhite is good enough to come in and be just that as a true freshman.

If the first weekend's intrasquads were any indication, the 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-hander is well in the mix. He hit 95 mph on the radar gun a couple of times in his two innings of work last Sunday and was consistently in the low-to-mid 90s with his blazing fastball. It was an impressive debut in the first preseason weekend of action.

"I've really worked hard to get ready for the season," Satterwhite said. "I've been trying to fine-tune my pitches. I know it will be a long, grueling, 60-plus game season. So I've tried to get ready for that and pace myself toward that."

Satterwhite, from Jackson and another in a long line of successful players from Hillcrest, says he gets more comfortable every day in the college environment.

"It's taken some getting used to, the teaching methods, what we do in practice, things like that," he said. "The fall gave us new guys a lot of opportunity to do that. Now that preseason practice for the season is here, we're all getting more comfortable in what we're doing."

Satterwhite said he tried to improve his pitching in the fall while also adding a new wrinkle or two.

"I really didn't have a changeup in high school," he said. "I came in and knew I needed a changeup at this level. So that's what I've mostly been working on, developing a changeup to add to what I already have."

Satterwhite also says it's exciting to know that so many spots are open on the staff, and that even as a true freshman he can come in and get a shot to do some special things.

"Yes, that is big right there," he said. "Several pitchers were drafted. There's playing time available for pitchers and some innings out there to go after."

If the first preseason weekend is any indication, Satterwhite is definitely in the hunt to get a lot of those innings.

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Stoney Stone, the veteran right-hander, said the pitching staff does have some new folks involved, but it's still a solid group, in his opinion, even with so much youth.

"The staff's still very good, just with some new faces," said Stone, a senior in his second season with the Rebel program after a juco career. "I don't think it will be a whole lot different. We've got plenty of guys to go out there and get the job done."

Stone, whose shining moment from last year was the save he got against Florida to propel the Rebels to the Sunday title game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala., says that while the staff is young and some are inexperienced at this level, the talent is there to overcome it.

"Actually some of the guys who came in are older guys," said Stone - Nick Hetland, Garrett White, Craig Rodriguez are all juco transfer juniors. "They're used to pitching against good competition and in college baseball situations. Hetland was 17-1 in junior college, so obviously he can get the job done. All of them are solid. They aren't recruited to come here if they can't get it done."

The 6-6, 200-pound Stone, almost a certain reliever and perhaps a midweek starter, had a good but not spectacular first outing of the preseason last Saturday. He says he's heading into the season with high expectations for himself and for the team.

"I feel prepared," said the Ruston, La., native who pitched for Texarkana Junior College before coming to Ole Miss. "I think I had a good fall. I just want to get better in the preseason so I can help the team as much as possible."

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Mike Bianco says so far things have been very positive in the first couple of weeks of practice for the Rebels as they head toward the season-opener in two weeks against Saint Louis University.

"We've been fortunate with some outstanding weather," said the sixth-year Rebel head coach. "We've been able to accomplish a lot, maybe as much as we ever have this early in preseason practice."

Bianco says that while the pitching is improving and the defense is projected to be solid again, it's the hitting that continues to be the most impressive aspect of this Rebel team to date.

"If you watch our BP even in practice, you'll see that it's pretty good," he said. "We swung it well in the fall, and we continue to swing it well in the preseason. So the hitting's been very positive for us."

The Rebels will intrasquad again this weekend at 1 p.m. on Saturday and at 11:45 a.m. on Sunday.

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