Lance Lynn ready for 'biggest game'

Lance Lynn plans to take the mound as he has all season, with confidence in his abilities and with the attitude that his team will win the game. Ole Miss and Miami play game three of the 2006 Oxford Super Regional at 6 p.m. today at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.

There are several reasons Ole Miss can win tonight. None moreso than it's time.

You might call that simply a "faith" scenario, just being positive when things are tied 1-1 and it's still anybody's Super Regional.

Just like a year ago today, the Rebels are a win away from Omaha. Tonight they may be able to make those reservations that eluded them a year ago on this date.

So it's on to game three again. Enter Lance Lynn.

The right-handed true freshman has grown up this season. He relishes an opportunity like this.

The Rebels have responded behind him all season. He relieved in February and has started since March. In nine of the last 10 games Lynn's started, dating back to an 11-4 win at Georgia to complete the sweep, the Rebels have won when he's thrown the first pitch for his team.

Drafted a year ago this past week in the sixth round by the Mariners, Lynn chose to come to Ole Miss for moments just like this one.

"Will this be your biggest game so far?" asked a reporter of Lynn.

"This is my freshman year, so yeah, I guess it will be my biggest game so far," said a relaxed Lynn, drawing some spotted laughter from those in the room and even chuckling a bit himself, knowing full well what's at stake.

"I'm just going to have to come out and fill the zone up and do what I've been doing lately. I'll just have to dominate with my fast ball and go from there. That's how I pitch."

Lynn exudes a confidence and composure of a guy older than a freshman. That's because he's been through a lot of wars already this school year, one of them earlyon within himself as he tried to get in better shape than when he arrived, and also learning the ropes of pitching in college.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound right-hander says he isn't the same pitcher who arrived on campus last August.

"I've grown up quite a bit as a pitcher," he said. "When I got here, I was more of a thrower. Coach Bianco has worked with me all year. My starts have gotten better and better. I've become more of a pitcher. I've gotten out of some big jams here and there. My confidence is so high in my ability and in my pitches. That's just the way I am on the mound."

Team captain Justin Henry says he's seen a lot of growth and development from Lynn.

"He came in here having great stuff," Henry said. "But as he said himself he was more of a thrower. He had such great stuff in high school that he didn't have to worry about hitting his spots. But each week he's gotten better and has learned how to pitch against good hitters. I think his confidence is very high right now. He has good composure. We're glad to have him on the mound for this one."

Mike Bianco said what Lynn has done has been important to the success of the team this season.

"He's been a workhorse, a real warrior for us," he said. "He's taken care of that game three, the Sunday game, and it seems like everytime out, that everyone of those times, he's given us a chance to win. He always goes deep into the games. He always holds the opponent down. His stuff's so good that it's hard for the other team to mount big rallies against him. He's just a great competitor out there, and we're excited about having him out there in game three."

Early last season, the first two starters for weekend play were set with Mark Holliman and Matt Maloney. Eric Fowler became the Sunday starter midseason. The senior lefty pitched admirably in game three of the Super Regional as he had much of the season when he became one of the Rebels' success stories of 2005. Against the Longhorns in a 6-4 UM loss, Fowler allowed five earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

Bianco said he knows the comparisons are there from last year vs. Texas. He even mentioned being the visiting team again in the finale this year via losing a third-game coin toss Sunday.

But the comparisons can stop there as the Rebels have a chance to win and move on to the College World Series.

"This is a different team, and I'm not trying to downplay it," Bianco said. "Last year I thought we played well in all three games. Texas just played a little bit better. (Saturday night) we played well against Miami and were able to come back to win. (Sunday night) they played better than we did. (Monday night) we have to come out and play better than they do.

"We can talk about last year all we want," he concluded. "But as we've talked about a lot, it won't be easy. You'll play somebody good. They won't fold. You have to beat 'em."

Lynn says he plans to prepare in every way for this one just like any of his other starts.

"I won't change up my approach," he said. "I have to view it as just another game. After getting something to eat (Sunday night) and getting some rest, I'll probably sleep until about noon or so (laughter from media in the room). I'm not going to think of it as any bigger than other games or anything like that. I'm just going to try to go out and be my own person, just like I've been doing all year."

Bianco said it remains to be seen if Cody Satterwhite, who relieved game two starter Brett Bukvich and went four and a third innings to finish that contest, can pitch again tonight.

"We'll have to see with Cody," he said. "Anybody who can pitch will pitch, without a doubt. I think he threw over 60 pitches (Sunday), and he could come back and throw an inning."

He said Will Kline, who started game one and went just two and two-third innings, will be available.

Bianco said the Rebels have had success in winning a lot of two out of three weekends this season, and he compares this to that.

"A Super Regional is more like an SEC weekend, and I believe we're ready for it," he said. "We're ready to win this three-game series. Now it's all about one game.

"We had a mulligan," Bianco said, "and we used it (Sunday)."

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