By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Another run-scoring double or two, and Ole Miss could have been playing in a super regional.
The Rebels begin baseball practice today, hoping to take another step or two in the postseason after reaching the champion-ship game of the College Station Regional at Texas A&M last year.
The Rebels finished the season 37-26, going 14-16 in the SEC regular season.
An Ole Miss team ranked No. 13 by Baseball America has gotten a lot of winter attention for its pitching, led by preseason All-American Bobby Wahl, but hitting coach Cliff Godwin is excited by the potential he sees in the Rebels’ offense.
Godwin expects more production in 2013 in spite of the fact that Ole Miss loses its top hitter, Alex Yarbrough, and the big bats of Matt Snyder and Zach Kirksey, who provided 25 of the team’s 37 home runs.
“I’m confident we’re going to hit more home runs as a team than we did last year,” Godwin said.
The team that kept Ole Miss from taking that next step – TCU – will be in Oxford for the first game of a season-opening three-game series on Feb. 15.
The Rebels will have intrasquad scrimmages today and Saturday and a regular workout on Sunday.
Yarbrough hit .380 last season and was drafted in the fourth round by Anaheim. He was third on the team with 43 RBIs, following Kirksey with 47 and Snyder with 63.
“We’re going to be more dynamic. We’re going to have more guys that can steal bases, that are going to hit doubles. Believe it or not, we’re going to hit more home runs as a team than we did last year,” Godwin said.
“We have a bunch of guys that will hit six to eight home runs, a couple of guys who will hit double digits.”
Junior college transfer catcher Stuart Turner is expected to provide some power. His ability behind the plate will allow junior Will Allen to move more into a first base and DH role – along with sophomore Sikes Orvis – which should help Allen’s offensive numbers. He hit .302 with 11 doubles and 24 RBIs last year.
Junior Tanner Mathis toyed with leaving for the Houston Astros organization but is back in his left field spot. He hit .359 last season and led the team with 50 runs scored.
“I think some people are going to sleep on us, which is a good thing,” Godwin said. “Then they’re going to look up at the end of the season, and we’re going to have a great offense.”