Lynn Lighting up Foes in 2007

Lance Lynn relied on a fastball to win seven games during his freshman season. Now a year later, the overwhelming right-hander has transformed from a thrower to a pitcher in becoming one of the SEC's best on the mound.

The Brownsburg, Ind., native's record is hampered by an early-season offensive slump, but the rest of the stat line is good enough to stagger any conference opponent. Despite the 2-2 ledger, Lynn touts a 2.05 ERA and has struck out 51 while walking only 15. The lack of free passes and more control of his entire arsenal have elevated the sophomore into a complete and feared foe.

"I worked on my offspeed stuff in the offseason as far as control," Lynn said. "The other big thing is not trying to strike everyone out. My job is to throw every pitch for a strike. We have a sold defense, and I need to let them do their job and take advantage of it."

Lynn chose Oxford over a pro contract with the Seattle Mariners out of high school. The Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year was a sixth-round pick and fourth overall for the Mariners.

That talent was visible quickly with Lynn being the only Ole Miss pitcher to start during all 10 conference series in 2006. He tied Will Kine for the team-high with 76 strikeouts but was troubled by 51 walks which led to a lackluster 4.96 ERA.

Lynn began this season strong with a combined shutout over New Orleans and has led the Rebels to wins during each of his two SEC starts thus far. Both games were head-turners with Lynn stymieing then-No. 1 Vandy on the road with a no hitter going into the eighth inning and a two-run, nine-inning effort against Alabama this past weekend.

With the control dialed in, he is holding opposing hitters at an anemic .196 average and maximizing outings with low pitch counts until late in the game.

"I'm not walking as many guys as I was last year," Lynn said. "There were times where I would have five walks in five innings, but then last Saturday, I threw nine innings and walked one guy. My pitch count isn't going up nearly as fast as my freshman year

"Also, it is a lot easier to cross up the hitters when all the pitches are crossing the plate. They can't just sit there and try to time the fastball."

Lynn is worrying about that record, but it happens to be the one next to the Rebels' name instead of the one next to his own.

"Our job as pitchers is to keep the game close and give the team an opportunity to win," Lynn said. "Most of us know what it feels like not to reach that final goal so everything we do is with the importance of getting there."

Reaching that ultimate goal will require winning close contests and that is one stat Ole Miss has begun to turn around recently.

The Rebels are currently riding a three-game win streak and two of those are of the walk-off, one-run variety.

After the last at-bat wins over Alabama and USM, Ole Miss is now 5-6 in one-run affairs. That is a far cry from the 0-3 stretch that plagued the Rebels from the UCLA series through the first conference weekend.

The turnaround can be somewhat attributed to the health of Cody Satterwhite. The sophomore has picked up two wins in relief and appears to be nearing 100 percent. Both victories came after Satterwhite shut down the opponent during a tie game.

"I am getting there," Satterwhite said smiling after the game Tuesday. "It feels good, and the close wins are huge for our confidence."

Head coach Mike Bianco said that Satterwhite was ready and the rehab was basically complete.

The other pitching news involves the weekend rotation with Craig Rodriguez replacing Brett Bukvich as the Sunday starter. It is a move not because of a lack of production from Bukvich but rather to find the right combination to shore up a struggling bullpen and get the starter deeper into the series finale at the same time.

Rodriguez started seven SEC contests in 2006 with a 3-3 record. The senior left-hander did have two complete games.

Ole Miss travels to Auburn this weekend with the Friday game beginning at 6 p.m.

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