Alex Presley wrote on his bio page in the baseball media guide last season that the historical figure he would most like to have met was Elvis. No relation to Alex - at least I don't think.
But Elvis and Alex have more in common than just last names. It's their hits.
Elvis, the north Mississippi native, had musical ones. Alex the baseball kind.
The Monroe, La., product rocked and rolled his way to the top of the charts in the Rebels' opening games against Saint Louis. His numbers were nothing short of spectacular.
In two Rebel victories, Presley was a combined 7-for-10 at the plate with nine RBI. He had two triples, one of them of the base-clearing variety, and also nailed a two-run shot over the right field wall in a five-run Rebel fourth in the 9-1 first-game UM victory. In game two, when he had those two triples, he was perfect at the plate - 5-for-5.
Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said he wasn't surprised.
"We expect days like this out of Alex," Bianco said after the Rebels started 2-0 on the season. "He's been here for three years and is a tremendous player. But he's been doing things like this since he's been here. So a great day for him, which really helped our team."
Pitchers say they like to "hit their spots" when they're on the mound. Alex Presley seems to have a spot he likes to hit as a batter. His is in fair territory in the extreme right corner of Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. Some of his more dramatic hits as a Rebel have come in that very location.
Friday, for example. His home run (over the wall, obviously) and his two triples both came in the same general location, somewhere near that right field foul pole or not too many feet fair.
It's happened several more memorable times in his UM career. His freshman season, the left-hander beat Tennessee on a Friday night of a 3-day series with a dramatic two-run, 11th-inning home run right down that right field line for a 4-2 victory. The very next day he homered again (OK, so this one was over the left field wall, but just barely as two UT outfielders looked like they each may have caught it) to put the Rebs ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth before Stephen Head came in to pitch and close it out in the ninth.
Then last season in the NCAA Regional, it was Presley again sending one out of the park, a three-run shot down in his old favorite spot and over that right field wall. It gave the Rebels some cushion late as they beat Oklahoma 7-3. Presley's round-tripper sent fans into a frenzy at that moment.
And that all makes it seem even more ironic, too. Presley is such an unassuming, small guy at 5-foot-11. And he's listed at 180 pounds, although he doesn't appear either that tall or that big.
But you don't have to be a big guy to hit the baseball a long way. Good eyes, quick hands, bat speed, confidence, talent, throw them into the mix and more.
And Presley's low-key approach to everything just adds to who and what he is. Even as a mature junior, he almost seems embarrased at the attention he's given at the end of a successful day - like Friday.
That's because Presley isn't about show. He's about winning. He's not about himself. He's about team, whether it's racing around in center field to catch up with another long ball hit his way to make an out, or to try to launch another one himself right out of the park from the plate.
"It's good when everybody is hitting," said Presley, spreading the compliments to his teammates after the two wins Friday when the Rebs had 30 hits. "It kinda got contagious out there."
Presley had a big hand in it catching on. But you could see this building. After a good freshman campaign, Presley played less as a sophomore as Miles Franklin, a senior, basically beat him out of his center field spot. As a freshman he started 51 games; as a sophomore only 31.
This year Presley was the clear-cut man in center. He had a terrific summer in the Cape Cod League, batting .341 which was not all that far behind Ole Miss teammate Chris Coghlan (.346) who won the batting title of the whole Cape Cod League.
Alex won the recent Keshel Cup IV, the offensive statistical race among Rebel hitters each semester, and was perhaps the best hitter in the just completed preseason practice.
"It was good to get off to a fast start," Alex said of 2006 and his performances Friday. "This year I'm hoping to keep it up and never look back."
Kinda like the other Presley did back in the '50s. Got that first big hit or two and kept on swinging.
Presley looking to keep up hot start
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