Seth Smith and Power once played together on the same field at Hillcrest Christian south of Jackson. Smith was a high school senior; Power a freshman.
Then Smith graduated and headed to Ole Miss to play quarterback for the football Rebs outfield for the baseball Rebs, garnering Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year honors on the diamond. Power noticed that and continued to watch as another Hillcrest alum, Stephen Head, made his way to Oxford, and the year after Smith won his honor was named the SEC's best freshman baseball player as well.
Power, whose roots ran maroon as many in his family went to Mississippi State and his brother played baseball there, continued to notice. When the time came for him to pick his college of choice, he followed his teammates to Oxford.
Power redshirted his first year and now in his third year to play is one of the veterans of a squad that has Omaha on its mind again. Power likes what he sees from this team and says there are some noticeable differences.
"Coach (Bianco) has been harping on some things, like he wants us to hustle and pick it up, pick up our intensity," Power said. "You can't take any days off. We have to play hard every day. We run in and out of the dugout, and there's a lot of energy and enthusiasm out there."
Power is impressed with the outfielders on the 2007-08 Rebel squad.
"We've got a bunch of guys out there who can play different positions. We've got some older guys and some newer guys. They're all good players and are swinging the bat well. It's fun to watch."
Or in Power's case fun to be a part of. As for his own play this fall, Power says he feels good about it.
"I feel like I'm seeing the ball pretty well. I've been swinging it well. Hopefully with some more ABs I can keep getting better."
The at-bats are winding down for Power and the Rebels this fall. The usual four weekends of fall practice turned into seven weekends this year because of some rule changes and the later start to the spring season.
This weekend, with intrasquads on Friday at 2:30 p.m., Saturday at 4:30 p.m. after the Rebels' football game, and Sunday at 1 p.m., the baseball team will wrap up fall ball for 2007.
Power says he's worked on several aspects of his hitting and has also worked to become more consistent mentally.
"I think I need to hit for a little more power than what I've been doing. Last year I had more home runs than my freshman year. Hopefully I can have a better year average-wise and power-wise and keep getting better every at-bat. My problem last year was taking at-bats off. I don't want to do that this year. Every at-bat you have to take the same approach. I'm working to do that this year."
Power says the competition among several good players in the outfield has spiced things up just a bit this time around.
"They're good," he said of the outfielders. "Whoever is the best is going to play. I know that. That's why I keep doing what I can and trying to improve."
Power, who has played all three outfield spots this fall, says while the positions have their similarities, they also are each unique.
"In right and left, there are different angles on balls," he said. "In center there's more ground to cover. I think you get better reads in center. But you have to take the same approach in every position and get a jump on every ball. That's about what it comes down to."
Power, fairly quiet by nature, has focused on becoming a leader of the team, both vocally and from a work ethic standpoint. He's totally committed to that this time around.
"With all the younger guys that we have, I feel like I need to be a better role model than in the past, to keep being a veteran and a leader to these guys."
A little like former high school teammate Seth Smith was for him when the Colorado Rockies player was a right fielder at Hillcrest and Power was in center.
"It's awesome watching him play," Power said. "I watched him play as I grew up, and then I got the chance to play with him my ninth grade year. People at home have been excited about him playing (in the World Series). I've watched him play all my life, and I'm still watching him. Following guys like him and Stephen Head, with them coming up here and doing what they did, that helped me make some decisions, like deciding to come to Ole Miss."
Power focused on having best year yet
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