A New Home In Center

Tim Ferguson took one look at the new outfield padding at Swayze Field and liked what he saw.

"That's going to help," said the first-year centerfielder, moving from the infield to the outfield. "With the old metal fence and me being a new guy out there, here's the thing. Just running into that fence I was tentative. But now that it's padded, it makes it better. Jump up and rob a home run. Whatever. It's going to help us."

He also said outfield may be the place he should have always been, even back in his youthful years on the diamond.

"I feel awesome out there, with my speed and all," said Ferguson, a junior from Beaumont, Texas. "I've always wondered since I was young why I didn't play out there. It's working out good and my arm feels good out there. I love it. It's fun."

Ferguson played in more than 50 games each of his first two seasons at Ole Miss as an infielder. But he only started a little more than half those games, splitting time his first year at shortstop with Evan Button and Sean Stuyverson and last season at second base with Button.

Last season the 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander hit a team-leading .358 with six doubles, four triples and two home runs. He had 21 RBI as he posted a .520 slugging percentage. He had a .971 fielding percentage, committing only seven errors. He finished the season 18-of-19 in steals, second best total on the team.

His first season he batted .289 with 23 RBI. He had nine doubles, a team-leading two triples, and he also had three home runs. He was a perfect 6-for-6 in steal attempts.

Ferguson is looking forward to improving all those numbers this season as he hopes to be an everyday player for the Rebels.

"That will make me a lot better. It will keep me in the zone," he said of more appearances. "I'm really looking forward to that. I really want to put up good numbers."

Obviously there are adjustments from the infield to the outfield. Ferguson believes he's well on his way to learning what it takes to succeed in the outfield.

"The only thing really different is reading the ball off the bat," he said. "I get a lot of that with BP and in intrasquads, stuff like that. The drills Coach (Matt) Mossberg has me doing have got me as prepared as I can possibly be."

Ferguson also looks to help the Rebels at the plate. Always known as a good hitter, he believes the everyday thing will help him immensely as a hitter.

"Coach (Mike Bianco) has talked to me about it," he said of where he might hit in the lineup. "I might be (at the top) or maybe the middle, depending on how some guys do and what role I fit. If I'm hitting the ball in the gaps, maybe I'll drop down to five or six. If I'm getting on base, probably one or two is where I'll end up. Speed is one of my tools of the game, so hopefully I can use that."

Bianco heaps quite an amount of praise on Ferguson, who he believes is set for his best year yet.

"He's a guy that's a super athlete, one of the best athletes we've ever had here," Bianco said. "He's a guy who can literally do it all, can play a lot of different positions, steal bases, hit for average, hit for power. He can just do so many things for your team. I don't even consider it a transition for him to centerfield. He moved out there and has looked terrific from day one. And he continues to get better and better."

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