Ole Miss will have a very different look at first base when the season gets under way tomorrow at 4 against Florida International.
Sophomore Will Golsan will start at first base, a spot occupied for the last three seasons by Sikes Orvis.
Golsan stands 6-1, 175, giving up 60 pounds to Orvis, who was 6-2, 235 last season.
Orvis hit 30 home runs and 31 doubles over the past two years with 16 home runs and 17 doubles coming last year.
Golsan hit his way into the lineup, mostly in place of Tate Blackman, another freshman, who wasn’t hitting very well.
Golsan finished the year at .290 with nine doubles and 26 RBIs. He tied for the team lead in multi-hit games with 16.
Golsan was effective with the bat but in a far different way.
Orvis had 44 percent of the team’s 36 home runs last year. His 17 doubles led the team. Only Errol Robinson and Colby Bortles, each with 11, had double figures in doubles. Orivs’ team-leading 53 RBIs accounted for almost 20 percent of the team’s runs driven in.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in the lineup that can hit,” sophomore center fielder J.B. Woodman said. “Teams will get everybody’s best shot. It will definitely be different without having him in the lineup, but we should be able to do it.”
Woodman hit eight home runs last year, up from two his freshman season. Bianco and hitting coach Mike Clement worked with Woodman to try and get more power from him in 2015. They did, but Woodman’s average declined from .298 to .274.
Bianco says Woodman has looked good in the fall and early preseason practice and is much more comfortable at the plate.
“Last year we tried to put some weight on him, tried to have him pull more balls. He hit eight home runs, which is pretty good, but I think it kind of took him out of his game. This is the best I’ve ever seen him swing, from the start of September workouts to now,” Bianco said.
Bianco noted Golsan’s defensive strength. There’s no doubt he will cover more ground than Orvis, but I thought Orvis’ athleticism and glove work were underrated parts of his game the last couple of seasons.