Baseball Notebook

Freshman Alex Yarbrough is having an impact on the Ole Miss baseball team. But that isn't a surprise.

The infielder from Allen, Texas, has started four of the Rebels' seven games at second base and played in six of seven games. He's batting .235 with six RBI and has a triple so far to his credit.

He continues to be scheduled as a backup to Zach Miller at second base. But Mike Snyder's appendectomy and also Snyder's banged up finger Sunday has allowed Yarbrough to not just get some quality playing time.

It's also shown the caliber of player he is.

"You always have to be ready to step in," said the switch-hitter. "I wasn't expecting to play (Sunday) either, but Mike (Snyder) took a ball on the finger, and it was nothing serious. But he tried (to play) and it didn't work out for him. You just have to stay ready and do your part."

Yarbrough, whose fielding percentage currently sits at 1.000, likes the way the Rebels defense has played so far. Ole Miss has opened 6-1 this spring.

"We've been great," he said. "We always pride ourselves on working as hard as we can. I've been happy with the way I've played, and I hope it continues."

Yarbrough said he's also becoming more comfortable at the plate.

"(Sunday) was probably one of my better days hitting the ball," he said. "I only got one hit to show for it, but I felt really comfortable, and I hope I can keep doing that."

His only hit of the day, a single, got two runs home in the 9-3 UM win against Oakland.

"I was looking fastball early in the count," Yarbrough said. "I got down 1-2 and worked it back to 3-2. He threw me that curve ball on 2-2 that I almost went for. I was pretty positive he was going to throw me a fast ball, and I got one right down the middle. I just stayed through it and hit it right back up the middle."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Yarbrough has proven to be a solid player for the Rebels.

"Alex has done a terrific job. Really proud of him. He played all three positions (second, third, short) in the fall and early spring, but not a ton at second. So he's done a terrific job, especially with the turns and double plays."

Closing Time

Through three appearances and 3.1 innings, closer David Goforth has been good so far. He hasn't gotten a lot of mound time yet, but he's balancing it all out at this point.

"Five days in between (appearances) is more than enough," he said of allowing his arm to bounce back. "I'm used to throwing back to back days or every other day, so that's more than enough."

The sophomore right-hander, who was mid-90s with his fastball Sunday, said he's mostly pleased with how things have worked out on the young season.

"Been pretty good," he said. "Slider has been really good, which is an improvement from last year. It's been consistent, and I've been throwing it into the zone. Overall I'd say it's gone pretty well."

And he continues to add to his arsenal.

"(The changeup) is coming along. It's still a work in progress. I throw it in bullpens and I work on it in practice. We haven't really thrown it in games yet, but it's coming along."

Goforth is adjusting to the role of closer, but he's had time to do so. When Jake Morgan was out for the season last fall due to surgery and rehab, Goforth was the apparent closer to step in.

"You know you're going to go in if the game is tied or we're up," he said. "That's your time to pitch, the ninth. You're sitting in the dugout and you're always ready to go in. But knowing you've got the ninth is always good."

Sunday Starter

Trent Rothlin has had two good outings to begin his Ole Miss career, but has walked too many. He's averaging four walks per game.

"(Rothlin) is just not as consistent in the strike zone," Bianco said. "His stuff's so good. He can pitch out of jams. He doesn't give up very many hits. But he's got to get ahead of more hitters. It's tough if you're going to walk four in five innings. That's going to wind up getting you eventually. So we've got to do a better job of getting him in the strike zone earlier."

Bianco likes the defense his team is playing behind the pitchers.

"We didn't have that many strikeouts (seven Sunday), and there's 27 outs," he said. "So we made the plays some other way today. It's a little different than on Friday when we struck out 18. There were only nine other outs (Friday) you've got to get with your glove. Today we did a good job.

"We continue to turn double plays. We turned two, and then there was Yarbrough's ball at the end (for a third double play). We've been doing a good job in the outfield, and the catchers have been terrific. I'm happy with the defense, especially this early in the season."

Miles Hamblin has suffered his share of struggles at the plate lately. He's got just two hits in 23 at-bats, one of them a home run. Bianco said it's just a matter of time before the junior juco transfer settles in and makes things happen.

"I thought Hamblin today bounced around and made several nice plays, one on a bunt play, and he blocked a ball on a third strike and made a play," he said of Miles at catcher.

"Offensively he's just struggling. It happens. Not everybody can be hot at the same time. He's had some tough at bats. He's hit some balls right on the button and hasn't had much to show for it. Then he's had some at-bats where he's been kind of fooled up there and his timing's been off. But he's certainly a lot better than what he's played, and he'll get it going. He's a guy that for us to be good, he's going to have to play. So we'll keep working with him."


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