The question was about run-production, and Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco and senior left-fielder Tanner Mathis are confident the Rebels will improve in that area.
Ole Miss was second in the SEC in batting average (.296) but eighth in runs scored (338) in last year’s 37-26 campaign:
“When you lose players like (Alex) Yarbrough and (Matt) Snyder, guys that have been in your program and had great offensive careers, and Zach Kirksey in his senior year had a great year, those are three key components that we lost. Just like how they matured through the years, we have other guys currently doing that.
“Auston Bousfield reminds me a lot of what Alex did. He actually hit about 10 or 15 points higher than Alex did as a freshman. He gained valuable experience. When I look at guys like Will Allen who hit .305, had a tremendous fall. I think he’s getting ready to have one of those break-out years. Austin Anderson really swung the bat fairly well last year had a tremendous fall. (Andrew) Mistone is a senior. A lot of those juco kids play better as seniors.
“Tanner (Mathis) is one we didn’t expect to come back for his senior year and at the end was arguably the best hitter on the team.
“I think we’ll run better. I think we’ll handle the bat better than we did last year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit more home runs. We lose a couple of boppers in Kirksey and Snyder, but Yarbs only hit a couple of home runs. When you look at guys like Will Allen and Overbey, Bousfield’s going to hit some home runs. We’re going to be all right in that category. I think we’re going to score more runs than we did last year, and we certainly need to. Last year we did a lot of great things offensively, but we had trouble pushing runs across. At the end, we’ve got to be able to score a few more runs.”
Here’s what Tanner Mathis had to say on the topic:
“One of the big things is … the strikeouts went down, the batting average up, what happened with the runs, we didn’t hold each other accountable enough. That’s the only time for us to be selfish, when there’s a guy in scoring position. We want that to be our hit, our run. It helps the team. You want to get that guy in. You have to do what you can to get him in. You don’t want to rely on the guy behind you, because you want to do it yourself.
“The main thing is we’re more accountable. Even when we don’t do it in the intrasquad game he’ll write it down and bring it up at a later point.
You have to do it yourself so you know you get it done.
“It’s been a topic, one thing we’ve talked about as a team. Last year we wanted to be the No. 1 offense. This year it’s the No. 1 run-scoring offense,” Mathis said. “That’s one thing we harp on every week. When we have a meeting, that’s what we talk about, how to do it, how to get better at it each and every week.”