Tupelo’s Brad Henderson was the final signee last season to the Ole Miss baseball program. It’s a move head coach Don Kessinger was glad he made.
“Brad is an outstanding prospect that will only get better,” Kessinger said. “But Brad is even a more outstanding person. He’s been a real bright spot for us this year.”
That’s been especially important in a season that hasn’t had as many bright spots as hoped. Henderson has started 26 of the Ole Miss games and is hitting a very solid .270.
“I’ve played more than I thought I would,” said last year’s Daily Journal All-Area Player of the Year. “I don’t know if that means we’ve had a tough year or I’ve done better than what was expected. But I feel great about where I am and how it’s going.”
Henderson has shuffled between the corner infield slots, as well as the designated hitter role. His teammates, especially the seniors, speak highly of the Rebel rookie.
“Brad’s going to be a great player before he leaves Ole Miss. At least I think so,” said Iuka’s Richy Harrelson, a four-year starter who has shared playing time at third base with Henderson. “It’s tough for a first-year guy to get used to playing at this level. Brad had a slow start, but he’s gotten better every week.”
Delta State pads the numbers
While Delta State waits for the announcement of the host sites for the NCAA Division II Tournament, the Statesmen (No. 1 in Collegiate Baseball Poll) padded their offensive stats by winning last week’s Gulf South Conference Tournament in Cleveland.
First baseman Spencer Holman of Hamilton is hitting .360 (6 HR, 31 RBI). Marc Taylor of Bruce is hitting .342 and might be the best fielding shortstop at any college in this state. Saltillo’s Heath Bailey is clearly the league’s best center fielder, hitting .338 (9 HR, 43 RBI, 32 stolen bases).
Other area performers at DSU include Aberdeen’s Corey Sledge (.305), Corinth’s Sean McGrath (.299), Biggersville’s Will Lowrey (.323), Houlka’s Jeremy McClain (10-2, 3.09 ERA) and Ripley’s Wade Canty (2-0, 3.57).
How dominant was Delta State in the always tough GSC? The Statesmen had an all-conference player in six of the eight positions, plus the DH and three of the five pitchers. That’s 10 of 15 possible all-conference berths.
Oh yes, Bill Marchant was named Coach of the Year, too.
Mississippi State continues to swing the hot bat, hitting .308 against SEC foes. Against Arkansas last week, MSU hit .345. … Ole Miss outfielder Anthony Felston, an All-American juco performer last year at Delta, has heated up. hitting .385 last week against Auburn. He has raised his average (.276) nearly 25 points in the past four weeks. … After a slow start, attendance at Dudy Noble Field has picked up considerably. Last week’s Arkansas series drew 13,701, the second-highest total since the SEC inception of the three-day weekend series. MSU is averaging 1,742 fans coming into what figures to be a strong drawing series with Ole Miss.
The NCAA baseball periodical indicates the desire to choose some “new blood” for regional host sites in the NCAA Tournament. In the next paragraph, they say “money and attendance will also continue to be primary considerations” in the selection process. That means LSU, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State and Alabama still have hopes of being one of the eight selected sites.
Chris Burrows covers college baseball for the Daily Journal.