Intriguing Rosters Add to McKean's Summer

Summer baseball is an enjoyable time for college players, but it can be a strange time as well. The reality of athletes opposing teammates and playing with opponents can make for interesting situations.

Rory McKean has experienced this unique twist and mainly describes it as weird.

For an example, look back to June 19, when Brewster met Bourne on a Thursday in the Cape Cod League. Two Rebels compete for each team – McKean and Wade Broyles in Brewster and Nathan Baker and Jordan Henry for Bourne. Out of the four, McKean would have the best day, and the oddness of facing his friends wasn't lost amid the success.

"Going against those guys was weird, especially pitching against Jordan twice, but it is just part of it, some added entertainment I guess," McKean said. "But good for me, I struck him out the first time and got him to groundout to end the game.

"Nathan started against us, so Wade and I heckled him a little bit. Since we play with them, we know what gets under their skin. It is a lot of inside jokes."

The other abnormal part for McKean is the rest of his division-leading Brewster roster. It features three players from Miami and three from Vanderbilt. The Hurricanes eliminated Ole Miss in the Coral Gables regional, while the Commodores have turned into one of the Rebels bitterest foes the past few seasons.

"Playing with those guys from Vandy and against Nathan and Jordan, it gives a new perspective," McKean said. "It allows you to see what other teams think about your program.

"It is a lot of respect. Vanderbilt might be our biggest rival, but it is because of all the SEC Tournament games and the two of us being so competitive. The Miami players said they were scared of us in their regional. They know about Ole Miss' reputation. That is always good to hear."

McKean's play this summer isn't hurting the respect factor for the Rebels either. The rising redshirt junior boasts a 1.54 ERA through eight appearances. The outing total is the highest on the Brewster staff, as the team has played just 12 games.

In 11.2 innings, McKean has struckout 14 and walked four with one save. He is being used in a middle relief role similar to his responsibility at Ole Miss.

The stellar performances have restored confidence for McKean after getting hit hard to end his 2008 season. The beginning of the year was exceptional, but the Montgomery, Ala., native struggled past the midway point.

"I started off really well and then lost some confidence," McKean said. "It wasn't a stamina issue or anything like that. Pitchers have strings where everything goes great, and then there are strings where it all goes the other way."

McKean is trying to strike a balance between getting work to stay sharp and avoiding too much labor that would keep him from being 100 percent for the fall. Coach Mike Bianco told McKean before leaving to do whatever he feels comfortable with. There are no restrictions on innings or appearances.

After staying in Oxford last summer to take organic chemistry, McKean is enjoying competitive baseball in a different place. However, the books have to remain close by even while in the Cape.

"I only have about 20 more hours left to get my degree in May," the biochemistry major said. "With less of a workload, I can really concentrate on baseball. But before that, I have to study a good bit. I'm taking the MCAT on August 22nd."

A day after the test that is required for medical school admittance, the first baseball team meeting will be held on campus. Even with the long-term goal of graduate school in place, other goals are up first.

"I need to do well on the test and then get settled in for a successful baseball season," McKean said. "Fall ball is very important for positioning going into the spring, and we lost several bullpen arms. I may have to decide between more school and the draft next year, but Ole Miss' season is the thing that matters right now.

"I want to work hard and help anywhere I can. We have goals that haven't been met yet."

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