Freshman Finds Success on First Weekend

Freshman Matt Snyder spent his first weekend with Ole Miss baseball watching his teammates closely and trying to adapt to the collegiate game. But by Monday afternoon, it was those same teammates watching him. The first baseman reversed the roles with one swing.

Home runs are flying out of Oxford High School at a regular clip so far, thanks to the fences spanning from 315-360 feet. Fly balls are turning into four-baggers often enough that most don't warrant a second look. However, Snyder sent one out Monday that added some excitement to the scrimmage.

After sophomore Matt Tracy worked Snyder to a 1-1 count, a fastball was left in the wrong spot – inside and a little up. And the freshman didn't miss it. Using an Easton Stealth composite bat, Snyder turned on the pitch and skied it well over the right-field wall. In fact, the ball flirted with a residence that is situated on a hill beyond the fence.

It was unquestionably the shot of the day, and an important hit for the new Rebel.

"The first few at-bats, I was trying to get the rust off," said Snyder, whose twin brother Michael is also a freshman infielder for Ole Miss. "Then I got my pitch on that last one and hit it pretty good. See all the guys cheering and complimenting me. Gives a nice boost as the fall moves on."

Longballs are nothing new for the six-foot-six Snyder, as he broke the Virginia state record for home runs with 15 in 23 games during his senior season. The mark was previously held by Snyder's older brother, Brandon, a former first round draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles.

Monday's home run was exciting, and the entire weekend has been a battle of emotions for the Virginia product.

"I'm definitely juiced up, I mean it's Ole Miss baseball. You go to high school and can't wait to get to college. It's finally here. I'm excited and appreciating being out here. But you have to be able to calm yourself down. If you're not careful, you will be swinging at pitches all over the place."

The first weekend has stabilized Snyder and gotten the butterflies of playing college baseball out of the way. Even so, he expects nerves to set in again once Swayzes Field's renovation is completed.

"It's weird to be out here because I got out of high school, and I am on a high school field again," Snyder said. "But we have the nicest stadium in the country coming up really soon, and I can't wait for that. It's going to be awesome."

Snyder's natural position is first base, but a very capable incumbent stands in the way of playing time at that position. Matt Smith set a freshmen record with 14 home runs last season and missed just one ground ball in 61 games.

The freshman respects Smith and also believes in his own abilities – that include less than four total errors in his final two high school seasons. The goal right now is to focus only on what he himself can control. The two players pushing each other will only make the team better.

And there are no bitter feelings about the competition. In fact, the two have spent some time together off the field as well.

"We've got some good guys at first base right now, especially Smitty (Matt Smith)," Snyder said. "You just have to do your best I guess. He's been a big help to me. Great to have him help me out. He even drives me around sometimes. I love him, a great guy."

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