Ready To Arrive

Gabe Woods got his high school senior season started off right back in late winter. He went 3-for-3 with three home runs and six RBI, with a base on balls for good measure.

That was a difficult act to follow the rest of the way, but the 5-foot-9, 175-pound shortstop from Albany, La., managed to do a pretty good job of things. He batted .517 with 42 RBI and 16 stolen bases, adding six more home runs along the way as his team went 24-6 and made it to the state quarterfinals.

This summer Woods, who committed to Ole Miss last summer and signed in November, is playing for a team in his area, Bill Hood Baseball. It's a traveling team that plays many of its games at Tulane but also in more far-reaching locales. The players are from across the Gulf South.

Three or four of them are headed to LSU, a few to Louisiana-Lafayatte and Alabama, and Woods to Ole Miss. In a recent highly-competitive showcase tournament in Atlanta, the East Cobb Invitational, Woods' team claimed the crown. The incoming Rebel played a big part. He hit a grand slam in the finale to lift his team to the title.

Although Woods will continue to play baseball with a metal bat, he's been improving with a wood bat as his recent accomplishments have shown.

"It's one of the things I've wanted to improve," he said of hitting with a wooden bat. "I've done well with my power and also becoming more of a gap hitter. I've always been a smaller guy, so coming to college and becoming an even better hitter is one of my top goals. I want to get stronger and being in the Ole Miss program will help with that."

Woods had a solid defensive senior year for Albany. He believes he's also improving that area this summer against strong competition.

"I've played shortstop my whole career, but I can play second, third or short," he said. "My speed is OK, and I can steal. But it's my lateral movement that's even better. Of course, I want to improve it all."

Woods was named District MVP, All-Metro Baton Rouge, All-Parish MVP (Livingston), and First-Team All-State. He knows there's an opening at shortstop for the Rebels with the departure of Kevin Mort, and he's looking forward to the challenge that brings.

"It's exciting to be able to go up there and compete for a spot," he said. "There's going to be some good competition, and that will only help to make everyone better. That's what it's all about."

Woods attended freshman orientation at Ole Miss in early July. He got acquainted with some future teammates.

"I met Bobby Wahl, Austin Sullivan, and R.J. Hively," he said. "It was great being up there. I'm ready to be up there now."

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