4 p.m. Today
Ole Miss RHP Brady Bramlett, R-Jr., 7-3, 3.74 vs. FIU RHP So. Andres Nunez 6-6, 3.99
1:30 p.m. Saturday
Ole Miss RHP Chad Smith, Jr., 3-1, 3.09 at Wallace State CC last year, vs. FIU RHP Chris Mourelle, Jr., 7-7, 3.07
12 p.m. Sunday
Ole Miss RHP Sean Johnson, Jr., 1 IP at Ole Miss last year vs. FIU RHP Garrett Cave, So., 0-1, 5.06
By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – One of these things is not like the other.
As Ole Miss opens baseball season Friday at 4 against Florida International at Swayze Field, junior center fielder J.B. Woodman is hoping to have success just like former Rebels slugger Sikes Orvis. The same success but different.
Orvis was a noted power hitter whose numbers jumped dramatically after his sophomore season.
He hit 44 percent of the team’s 36 home runs last year as a senior. Over his last two seasons he hit 31 doubles and 30 home runs.
“It will definitely be different without having him in the lineup, but we should be able to do it,” Woodman says.
Florida International went 30-31 last year, 13-17 for seventh place in Conference USA. The Golden Panthers won the Conference USA tournament to earn a spot in the Coral Gables Regional where they lost to Miami but defeated East Carolina and former Ole Miss assistant Cliff Godwin before losing again on the third day. They are projected fourth in Conference USA by D1Baseball.com.
Woodman is not expected to be the dominant power guy that Orvis was his last two seasons. They are different players.
In fact, Bianco and his staff tried to get more power last year from Woodman, Florida’s Class 6A player of the year as a high school senior. They did, but Woodman’s average declined from .298 as a freshman All-American to .274. He hit just .215 in SEC play.
“As a coach I always cringe to say, ‘Hey, you need (to produce) this.’ Somebody’s got to be that guy. You would think J.B. is that guy. He’s a guy that’s got all the tools. He’s physical, he runs. He’s a defender. He can hit for power, for average. He steals bases and bunts,” Bianco said.
As a sophomore Orvis hit just .237 with three home runs and three doubles. A year later his numbers surged in all categories – including a career-best .294 batting average – and he was a key component on the 2014 College World Series team.
“I want to hopefully hit in the middle of the order and do things the team needs me to do to win games, things like get big hits, get on base, play good defense and hopefully be good leader,” Woodman said. “I want to set a good example for the young guys, talk to them and tell them my experience from the mistakes I’ve made.”