Barrett gets the nod

Casual observers of Rebel baseball will probably be a little surprised JUCO transfer Aaron Barrett will start the season opener in Mobile Friday, but Aaron and the coaching staff are not.

Aaron Barrett, a 6-4, 216-pound right hander, will take the mound for the Rebels Friday when they open the 2009 baseball season against Liberty in Mobile, AL.

That may or may not be a bit surprising to some, but it's not to Aaron or the Rebel coaching staff.

"I was recruited here for a reason. I was recruited to take the place of Lance Lynn or Cody Satterwhite," said Barrett. "I'm just doing what I am supposed to do and what I expect of myself.

"In the fall, I was trying too hard and trying to impress everybody. I wasn't myself, but this spring I have been working hard to just be myself. I've been working on hitting spots and doing the things I do best. I have gained a lot of confidence this spring and the reward is earning a spot as a weekend starter - so far."

It's unclear if Barrett would have gotten the number one nod if Drew Pomeranz was available. The Memphis sophomore has been suspended for the opening weekend series for breaking team rules a while back.

But what is clear is that Barrett has been impressive enough to earn a weekend starting berth, at the very least.

"Aaron is a competitor," said Pitching Coach Carl Lafferty. "He's going to go out there and battle as long as he is on the mound. He may have a bad inning or stretch, like every pitcher does, but he's going to keep coming at the hitters.

"He also has great stuff. He's got a low 90s fastball that he has command of on both sides of the plate and he does a good job of keeping it down in the zone. Aaron also has a slider that is anywhere from 79-82 miles an hour that is a swing-and-miss pitch. He has definitely earned a spot in the weekend rotation."

Aaron feels confident in a variety of his pitches.

"I throw a two-seam and a four-seam fastball. The two-seam is in the 88-91 mph range and the four-seamer is 91-93," said Aaron. "My slider/breaking ball, though, is my best pitch. I can throw it for a strike and use it as my strikeout pitch. I also throw a circle change that I throw out of the zone and that's been a good pitch for me as well."

Barrett believes the Rebels, from top to bottom, have a staff that can be dominant.

"From top to bottom, we have a real strong staff. We have a lot of guys we can run out there who can get batters out," he stated. "I think we can be really good on the mound this year. If one is off, we can just run another great arm out there and get the job done."

Aaron will be taking the mound for real Friday, but he's had ample training facing the Rebel lineup in the fall and in the spring.

"Facing our hitters has prepared me for anything I can face and it has definitely made me a better pitcher," he closed. "Junior college is good competition, but it's not like facing one excellent hitter after another.

"When you face Matt Smith and Jordan Henry and Logan Power and all the guys one after another, you better have your best. Then there is the added pressure when a guy like Jordan gets on base and you have to do your part in controlling the running game. I have been well-schooled, believe me."

It is no small feat to come into an established program like Ole Miss' and earn a starting role in the pitching rotation, much less the top spot.

Aaron Barrett, for now, has done both.

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