Lafayette's Thomason ready to play at UM

Josh Thomason flew to Omaha today. He's hoping to make that trip about this time every June for the next several years.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-handed pitcher, who committed to Ole Miss a year ago and signed in November, 2006, will pitch for the Houston (Texas) Sun Devils in a prestigious tournament in Nebraska's largest city. Also going on is the College World Series. Thomason will attend this weekend's NCAA championship series. The next time he's up there, he's hoping it's his Ole Miss Rebels who are in that final series.

"It's going to be a cool experience," the Lafayette County High School graduate said of his trip to play in the summer tournament and to watch the Division I national title be decided. "I'm looking forward to it. Tim Ferguson and Logan Williams (two other Ole Miss baseball signees arriving in Oxford in August) are on the team, too."

So Thomason gets to meet some future Rebel teammates while also getting to play baseball in Omaha. Not a bad deal for the summer. The Sun Devils will also play other tournaments, including one in Georgia next weekend and one in Florida in July.

Thomason is a pitcher and an outfielder but was recruited by Ole Miss mainly to pitch. He had a solid senior season for the Commodores, coached by former UM third baseman Richy Harrelson, who was recently named as an assistant baseball coach at Northeast Mississippi Community College.

Thomason helped lead Lafayette County to the north state semifinals in 2007 where he faced another Ole Miss signee, David Goforth. Thomason and the Commodores won the first game of the best of three series as he struck out 13 Rockets batters. In game three it was Goforth's team that took the title as the two UM signees started for their respective teams again.

Goforth, who threw a no-hitter in that series finale, said Thomason has good stuff.

"He's pretty good. He can't really overpower you. He locates really well with a good slider, and he can really change speeds to keep you off balance. The best thing is that he can run one in there on your hands (for a strike), and then he comes back with a slider that breaks down and away. It's pretty tough. He has good command of all his pitches."

For his senior season, Thomason was an impressive 8-1 with a 0.44 ERA, had 83 strikeouts and just seven walks. He's a fastball, curveball, slider, split-finger pitcher and says he's working on his changeup.

"I throw my fastball with good velocity," Thomason said. "I have a sharp slider. But I need to work on everything and look forward to getting better."

Thomason played left field for Lafayette County when he wasn't pitching. He hit .350 as a senior, had 46 RBI along with nine home runs and nine doubles. He was a high school teammate of former Commodore pitcher Kevin Parker, a Rebel redshirt this past season. Lafayette County won the Class 4A state baseball championship in 2006.

Thomason, who drew a lot of interest from Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, and Memphis, said he's excited about playing college baseball in his own backyard.

"I've been to a lot of games out there, and as soon as they offered me, I accepted," said Thomason, who was the second of 17 Rebel signees in last year's class to commit to Ole Miss after pitcher Michael Park of Memphis, Tenn., had committed. "I know it will be a challenge, and I'm definitely looking forward to it. Year in and year out, Ole Miss wins. It will be fun to be a part of it with my family and friends at the games."

And to hopefully make several more trips to Omaha in June, playing in the College World Series and not just watching from the stands like he will be this weekend.

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