Basham recharges with productive summer

Brett Basham needed a new start. A chance to recharge. An opportunity to put last season behind him.

Hitting a home run over Fenway Park's Green Monster, even if it was in BP, is one way to make all that happen.

Basham, entering his third year with Ole Miss baseball this fall, says last season was about as bad as it gets. And he doesn't hesitate to sum it up in those terms.

"The '07 season was miserable for me," he said.

There were several reasons. One of the main ones was that he'd finally gotten his chance to be a starting catcher at the college level, be "the guy" behind the plate. But in a game against Austin Peay right before the start of conference play, he broke his thumb.

When he was receiving a ball during that game, it simply hit his thumb that was a bit exposed just at that moment. And the damage was done. Might not have seemed like a big deal at the time, even though it hurt, but it hindered him the rest of the way.

"It was my right thumb, my throwing thumb," he said. "It's a lot better now, but it hurt all season."

Not a good thing for a catcher to have a broken thumb. He touches the baseball, most of the time coming right at him at 80 or 90 miles per hour, more than any other single player on the field during a game.

Basham said it didn't actually affect his receiving and throwing as much as his hitting.

"It was painful swinging the bat," he said. "Every once in a while there'd be that shock of the bat when I hit the ball. I struggled with it."

Basham batted but .206 this past season with 24 RBI, one home run, four doubles, and two triples. He played in 54 of the Rebs' 60 games, starting 47. He played less late than he did early.

Basham is ready to face whatever challenges come his way. He doesn't talk about last season much, and he looks ahead to an improved year.

"Right after the season, I sat down with my dad (former Tennessee catcher Bruce Basham) and then I sat down with Coach (Mike) Bianco," said the Knoxville, Tenn., native. "We decided the best thing is for me to forget '07 and move on from here. That's what I'm doing."

His summer stats in the Cape Cod League seem to bear that out. Playing for the Bourne Braves, Basham is batting .300 with 15 hits on the summer for his team which is in first place in the Cape's Western Division. It's been a mind-cleansing, fresh re-start for Basham, and he looks forward to bringing that renewed enthusiasm back to campus in late August.

"It's been going well," he said. "I was looking to get my confidence back, and I've done it. That's what summer ball is all about, improving on what you need to and also having some fun. It's really been good for me and my confidence, and I'm happy about that."

And what about that long ball over the famed structure in left at Fenway?

"The Red Sox invited about 30 players from the (Cape Cod) League to come down for a day," Basham said. "We took some BP. That wall is huge. TV doesn't do it justice. It takes a poke, and I barely got it out."

But he did and it was just one more moment for Brett Basham to get that confidence back, that feeling back, so he can help the Ole Miss Rebels in the spring of 2008. It was a part of his important summer, putting the past behind him and moving forward.

He'll forget some things from 2007, but he'll likely want to remember the shot out of Fenway from his recent past. That will be a moment he'll want to recall for a long, long time.

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