DELAND, Fla. – Preston Overbey hit a pair of home runs, while Sam Smith anchored another solid…
Ole Miss outscored the Hatters 26-3 in the series. After the first three games of the season, Auston Bousfield leads the team in hitting at .583, Will Allen is hitting at a .545 clip, and Austin Anderson is in with a .462 average. All are from central Florida.
The Ole Miss offense was effective all weekend, hitting the ball, taking advantage of opportunities, and being productive with the long ball. The Rebels had six home runs in those three games. Last season in 62 games, they had 23.
Allen and Preston Overbey had two home runs apiece. Sikes Orvis, another central Floridian, and Will Jamison had one each. Overbey batted .455 over the weekend.
Allen had an impressive 10 RBI and appeared to be comfortable back behind the plate as the Rebels' starting catcher.
Freshman Errol Robinson was impressive in the field and at the plate. The shortstop started all three games there and batted .400 for the weekend.
Friday night pitcher Chris Ellis proved effective in his start. The Rebels won the game 7-0, and the junior right-hander went six innings with no runs on four hits with two walks. It was the longest outing of his career.
Freshman left-hander Wyatt Short relieved Ellis and was impressive in his initial collegiate outing, going two innings, striking out four and not allowing a base runner. Junior right-hander Hawtin Buchanan went the last inning with two hits and two strikeouts.
Left-handed sophomore juco transfer Christian Trent had a solid outing as the Saturday starter. He went six innings, like Ellis did, allowing one earned run on three hits with six strikeouts. Sophomore righty Jacob Waguespack relieved Trent and went an inning with a hit and a strikeout, while junior righty Josh Laxer finished up the last two frames with a hit and two strikeouts.
On Sunday, junior righthander Sam Smith was battling a little tenderness in his shoulder, according to Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. Smith managed five innings with two hits, three walks, two strikeouts, and a hit batter but no runs allowed.
Three additional pitchers went Sunday – sophomore lefty Matt Denny and freshman righty Cheyne Bickle, who was making his debut. Both had a strikeout and faced just three Hatters.
It was senior right-hander Aaron Greenwood who was a bit shaky in the finale, allowing two earned runs on one hit with two walks and a strikeout in two innings. He's being counted on to close the door, or at least hold opponents at bay over some late innings.
Meanwhile the Rebel offense got to Hatter pitching with relative ease. Ole Miss wound up with 44 hits in three games, while seven Rebels walked and four were hit by a pitch. The Rebs struck out 29 times.
Here is some of what the participants and Bianco had to say in postgame radio:
* Bianco on the weekend: "We didn't play as clean (Sunday) as we did the first two days, but we still swung the bats well. We were aggressive on the base paths. I thought the offense played well all three games."
* Preston Overbey, who had two first-pitch home runs off new pitchers who had entered Sunday's game: "That's what we talk about, getting good swings off early in the count. When a pitcher makes a mistake, we've got to capitalize on it."
* Will Allen on the weekend: "It definitely was a great start to the season in all aspects. We swung it well all weekend. On the mound I thought we were terrific. And all the new guys that played this weekend, obviously they're going to play a huge part in our success this year."
* Allen on the offensive approach for the team: "Coach (Cliff) Godwin talks about approach all the time. We're just trying to get a ball that we can drive and hit it with authority. I think we did a great job of that this weekend. Hopefully we can keep that going."
* Bianco on Allen's weekend: "Couldn't happen to a better kid. Team captain and a guy that was our starting catcher two years ago and was trumped by the best catcher in the country last year, Stuart Turner. The great thing about Will is he handled that as well as anybody. He took the year to learn. He did a terrific job behind the plate this weekend and at the plate. Ten RBI, two home runs, what a way to start the year."
* Bianco on junior juco transfer, left-fielder Braxton Lee, the Rebels' leadoff guy: "He quietly puts pressure on the other team. He's a good offensive player, and he's faster than Tanner Mathis and a bigger steal threat than Mathis was. He adds another dimension to us at the top of the lineup. With he and Auston Bousfield at the top of the lineup, they were able to get us started a lot of innings."
* Saturday starter Christian Trent: "It was definitely fun getting out there the first time. It was great to finally face someone other than your teammates. And knowing you have a defense behind you like we do makes it a good feeling out there."
* Austin Anderson on playing third base: "It's a little different (than shortstop). The ball gets on you faster. The angle of the ball coming off the bat is different. I was there most of the fall, and I feel comfortable over there."
* Chris Ellis after his first start: "It was really nice to have run support this first game out. I never know in the bullpen (how he's going to pitch). But I had confidence in everything. The changeup was something that worked for me a lot throughout the game."
* Bianco on Chris Ellis: "He was dominant and had great command of his fast ball and changeup. A lot's been said about the Friday night guy, and that we didn't have one returning. Looked like we found one tonight."
* Bianco on Christian Trent: "A three-pitch guy that had all three pitches working today. He worked both sides of the plate and kept them off balance. He worked really fast. When you step on the field the first time, it's difficult. So many stepped on the field for the first time and did well, and Christian was one of them."
* Auston Bousfield on playing back home: "I had a lot of family and friends up in the stands. There were a lot of former (Ole Miss) players here, too. A lot of people came out here to support us."
* Bousfield on the offense's apparent more aggressive style: "Our team can really run this year. Coach (Bianco) told us he wants us to be aggressive. We haven't been as aggressive in the past. Hopefully that's something we can keep up all year."
Ole Miss hosts Tennessee-Martin at 4 p.m. Wednesday.