By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
At 6-foot-8, 250 pounds, Hawtin Buchanan strikes an imposing figure flat-footed. Get him on the pitcher’s mound and things change.
The length of the frame can make hitters think Buchanan is pitching from Little League distances.
“When he throws it he looks like he throws it from 50 feet. It’s a big disadvantage. The mound’s a couple of feet in the air, and he’s already 6-8. You’ve got to do a lot more to be on time, especially when it’s coming 90-plus or 95 miles an hour,” Ole Miss left fielder Tanner Mathis said.
The role for Buchanan, a freshman from Biloxi, has expanded of late.
He’ll be an option out of the bullpen this weekend when the Rebels take on rival Mississippi State in the SEC series.
No. 18 Ole Miss (27-14, 9-9 SEC) defeated MSU 6-3 on April 17 in Pearl thanks in large part to a dominant performance by Buchanan.
That game does not count in the conference standings. The next three do.
“I’ve grown up around the rivalry with my parents having gone to school here,” Buchanan said. “I know what’s at stake.”
In an effort to impact those stakes in the biggest way possible, Buchanan is working to improve the bite on his breaking pitches.
In the Governor’s Cup game he threw 22/3 innings with no runs, no hits, no walks and five strikeouts. He was named the game’s MVP.
The damage was done mostly with his powerful fastball, but he felt like he made strides with the curve.
“Against Mississippi State I improved on that, and I’m working with the coaches everyday to do different things to tighten it up and make it more consistent,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan gave up two hits and a run in 22/3 innings against Arkansas in the Rebels’ 11-3 loss on Sunday.
It was his second appearance of the weekend and ended a string of three appearances in which he allowed no hits or runs.
Buchanan has a 1.38 earned run average in 10 appearances.