Vaughn ready for fall baseball to start

Cliff Vaughn knows the race for first base is wide open. He could tell that by checking the roster.

Gone are Peyton Farr and C.J. Ketchum, two Rebels who played there. Gone, too, is Andrew Clark, the supposed future star who didn't last a year in the program. Evan Button and Cullan Kight have played there sparingly.

He also knows that Mike Bianco has told the team no position is safe, that everything is up in the air as fall ball arrives, and whoever wins any position plays it.

All that excites Vaughn, a 6-foot-3, 201-pounder from Houston, Texas. But his main focus is to keep everything in perspective and work hard every day. Then he'll see what happens as far as any starting spot is concerned. But he does have a specific goal in mind.

"My goal, as is everyone's goal, is to start next spring," said Vaughn, who played at Memorial High School. "There is competition at every spot. You just have to wake up every day and have that mindset. Right now it's all about getting good reps and staying in good shape."

Vaughn says he knows he has some work to do to get where he needs to be. Bigger, stronger, faster are the goals.

"I'm definitely not the strongest guy on the team," he said. "So I'm pushing myself in the weight room and eating like six times a day, definitely trying to get stronger. I don't feel I need to change much as far as my swing goes. I think I'm good there. Just get stronger and faster to compete with the players here."

Vaughn played summer baseball for the Houston Heat. While Mississippi was broiling under a summer sun with little rain, Vaughn said that wasn't the case in Houston.

"A lot of our games, most of our tournaments, got rained out," he said. "We did play in a tournament in Memphis for a week. It was great competition and there were lot of good teams. We finished up the summer with a tournament in New Orleans, which was a great tournament, too."

Vaughn had a solid senior season at Memorial. He batted .426 with 12 home runs. He's known as a power hitter, and that's another area Ole Miss can use some help. He also had 20-plus doubles this past season and 40 RBI for his 26-7 team. He was a second-team all-state first base selection in Class 5A, the largest classification in Texas. He was a first-team all-district selection at first base as well as first-team all-city.

And he says while first base is a top priority, he could play elsewhere.

"I could DH or play in the outfield," he said. "So we'll see how it goes."

For now, he's just taking it day by day and trying to get ready for a successful fall ball season. So far so good, according to Vaughn.

"Everything's going great," Vaughn said. "So far I'm hitting the ball pretty good. They really haven't changed much with my swing. We've been getting after it in the weight room and on the field. It's been great so far."

The Rebels begin their fall practices Sept. 21 and will go through the first weekend in November.

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