By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss assistant baseball coach Cliff Godwin says his offensive philosophy is to put pressure on the defense.
Monday at the Rebels’ preseason baseball press conference, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco and the players in attendance put that pressure on Godwin – and themselves.
Says senior first baseman/DH Matt Snyder: “With what coach Godwin has done with us, it’s unbelievable the things we can do as an offense.”
Says outfielder Tanner Mathis: “Our offensive numbers will be through the roof compared to what they’ve been.”
Monday’s theme was more than just the exuberance of players.
Said Bianco: “I don’t know if we’ve ever been more ready to start a season than I feel we are right now.”
That’s a good thing since the Rebels open Friday at TCU, which is currently ranked No. 15 by Baseball America.
Ole Miss, 30-25 last year and without a postseason bid for the first time since 2002, was seventh in the SEC in batting at .282, 11th in runs scored at 304.
The Rebels lost 360 innings from their pitching staff and will be unproven on the mound, though Bianco says talented, especially with Friday night starter Bobby Wahl, a right-hander.
Pressure is coming
It’s the offense, though, that has the players buzzing.
In 2010 Godwin was named Conference USA assistant coach of the year by SEBaseball.com after helping Central Florida to a conference-record .343 batting average.
“We want to put pressure on the defense all the time. That could be us stealing a base, Matt Snyder standing in the box, and they’re thinking, ‘Hey this guy’s going to hit a home run.’ There are many different ways you can put pressure,” Godwin said.
One of those ways is running around the bases. Bianco said the changes in the bats that were put in play in 2011 caught the Rebels at a disadvantage, because the program was built with heavy power hitters.
Things are different a year later.
“I don’t think we’ll have a starter in the outfield who is slower than a 6.8 in the 60, and that’s comparable to the 4.5 times you see in the 40 in football,” Bianco said. “We really can run.”
Freshmen Auston Bousfield in center field and Will Jamison in right field could be opening day starters along with junior Tanner Mathis in left field.
But Bianco believes the outfield is deep and talented if not overly experienced.
Among the interchangeable parts is freshman Senquez Golson, who turned down an offer in excess of $1 million from the Boston Red Sox last August to pursue a college football career.
That made him available for college baseball too, and Golson “doesn’t look out of place,” Bianco says, in spite of missing all of fall practice.
Golson won’t start but is expected to play get on the field at some point over the three games at TCU.