Lafferty looks forward to putting on uniform

Carl Lafferty is pleased to be on the field coaching the Ole Miss Rebels, the program he captained during the first season of the Mike Bianco era in 2001.

Carl Lafferty spent last season on the Ole Miss baseball staff. This season he actually gets to coach on the field.

Last season the catcher and team captain of Mike Bianco's first Rebel team in 2001 joined the staff as the administrative/graduate assistant. It was a position created just last year to take some of the pressure and workload off the other coaches. What it also did was give Lafferty the opportunity to move up if any of the staff ever left.

Recently Dan McDonnell departed to become head coach at Louisville, while Stuart Lake decided to pursue other baseball opportunities.

Bianco, being loyal to Lafferty not only because of their history but also because of all the positives the Pine Bluff, Ark., native brings to the program, elevated him to the volunteer coach status as allowed by NCAA rules. Kyle Bunn, who moves up to one of the fulltime spots, was the volunteer coach the past five seasons for UM. Newcomer to the staff Rob Reinstetle got the other fulltime coaching position.

While the label "volunteer" might not be glamorous, it looks awfully good to Lafferty as he moves ahead in his collegiate coaching career.

"I'm really excited to be back on the field," said Lafferty, who will likely work with the catchers among other duties. "I'm ready to put that uniform on again. It's a great opportunity for me and the next step in my career."

Lafferty had played pro baseball in the Cardinals organization after being drafted by the Marlins out of Ole Miss. He was a salesman for a company for a year before getting back into baseball last year.

"Things happen for a reason," said Lafferty, engaged to Lauren Nelson of Baldwyn. "I'm very pleased these opportunities have come my way. My goal is to help make Ole Miss baseball a better program than it already is."

Lafferty knows that will be a tall task as the program is already among the tops in the country.

"There are some big shoes to fill," he said of the positions vacated by not only the departures of McDonnell and Lake but also with him moving up to Bunn's spot. "We know we're still not where we want to be, and that's the ultimate goal of Omaha. But we'll continue to work hard to get there."

Lafferty can be somewhat of a bridge between the other coaches and the players. Still in his 20s and very familiar with the landscape of Ole Miss and Oxford, Lafferty seems to be the perfect fit for a program he and his teammates helped lay the foundation for back in 2001 when they played in the New Orleans Regional.

He says this first year back with Ole Miss baseball showed him what the makeup of the program is all about, especially when it comes to never giving up or giving in.

"Belief. That's what I learned most," said Lafferty, a better gauge than anyone of how far the program has come since he arrived at Ole Miss in the fall 1997. "You go back to when we were 13-11 overall and 1-5 in the SEC. Right then it was 38 players and five coaches and four managers and just the other staff members in that locker room who believed. But I could see that belief from the head coach on down, and we were able to have a very good season.

"Yes, we fell one game short (of the College World Series) again, but we'll get there. We'll reach that goal. That's where that belief comes in."

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