Improving Results

Sikes Orvis

Sikes Orvis is not the same guy who showed up to play baseball at Ole Miss three seasons ago. Strength and condition-wise for sure. He's not even the same guy he was six months ago.


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That's mainly a result of the program Ole Miss strength and conditioning coach Ben Fleming, who arrived last summer, has implemented.

The Rebels have obviously always had a strength and conditioning program, an excellent weight room, and those in charge to show them the way. But things are different, and the belief is results will follow.

Hope that the needed base hit to drive in a run is there, or the speed to score from third or steal second has increased. Or for more beverage showers in the outfield as a result of more home runs over the fence at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.

"It's been a development both mentally and physically," said Orvis, the junior who at first glance has developed into a more fit, stronger, and likely more productive player. "I'm obviously stronger than I've been since I've been here. The things he puts us through are the toughest things I've ever done in my life."

It's all a part of the plan. It's a plan that's worked for Orvis, according to Fleming.

"Sikes Orvis had a great fall. You could really see him being a vocal leader also," Fleming said. "He's really realized 'hey, I'm a 225-235 pound strong man. I can do a lot of things the 185-pound baseball player can't do.' And he's really stepped up physically. It really showed in the fall in baseball-related skills."

Junior college transfer outfielder Braxton Lee and junior outfielder Auston Bousfield were noted for their progress by Fleming. Among pitchers, Fleming said juniors Chris Ellis and Sam Smith were two that had made great strides.

"Those older guys really developed and got their bodies into shape for the season and were leaders on the pitching staff," he said. "So excited to see them moving forward. It will help them pitch more innings this spring. That's what you want."

Infielder Austin Anderson said he's seen everyone get better in these areas.

"He demands discipline and that we do everything right," the senior said of Fleming. "It's quite obvious we've gotten faster and stronger and definitely gotten more mentally tough."

Fleming said Anderson has stepped up to lead and to be conscientious about his health and well-being.

"It jumps out to me that one of the guys who had the total body transformation physically, really cared about what he was doing, preparing meals and losing body fat percentages was Austin Anderson," Fleming said. "He's shown he wants to be the leader of this team this year. He sees his hard work. He is really excited to see that progress."


Austin Anderson
Bruce Newman

Fleming said the newcomers have jumped right in and taken to the intense approach of their daily activities when it comes to food and fitness.

"They even pushed our older guys," Fleming said. "They really are hungry for playing time. That's what you always want. They got along well with the older guys. And it was always a fun atmosphere with the freshmen and younger guys, because they haven't really been in this type structured environment before."

Fleming said it's the best talent overall he's worked with in his career, which spans time in strength and conditioning programs at Central Florida and Kansas State.

"That's one of the things that's been exciting about coming to Ole Miss. Coach Godwin, Coach Lafferty, Coach Bianco get the best of the best athletes," he said. "These players are what I consider pro-style bodies. That's exciting as a strength coach. You had a few of those at UCF in Conference USA. A few more of those at Kansas State. When you come to Ole Miss, I'm seeing even more of them.

"We have the fastest outfield I've ever been a part of. The fastest combined team average – position players and pitchers – in the 60-yard dash I've ever been a part of. That's a testament to the quality of athlete we have here at Ole Miss. That gets you fired up as a strength coach. It's the best of the best."

Orvis said what he and his teammates have been through since August should translate into more production on the field. And that's the ultimate plan.

"If we can survive Coach Fleming's workouts, we can survive anything," Orvis said. "Just going above and beyond what we have to do. He's worked us, and it's been tough. I can see the results. It's more of a refuse to lose mentality. This team's a lot tougher than any team since I've been here."

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