The 2015 Ole Miss Rebels are a team that’s built a lot on new player potential and existing players’ roles increasing from last year. After all, the team lost six starters, the Friday night ace, and both closers. The amount of losses Ole Miss had this offseason doesn’t mean it’s impossible for the team to be successful, it just means they’ll need their players coming back to be reliant and solid leaders. A lot of that success starts and ends with senior right-hander Sam Smith.
Smith has improved each year he’s been in Oxford. He started off his career with a rough rookie year that saw a 2-3 record and a 5.80 ERA in 13 appearances, including nine starts. His sophomore campaign he moved to the Sunday role, and improved to a 3-1 record with a 3.41 ERA, almost doubling his innings pitched from 35.2 to 68.2. Last year was his best yet, posting a 5-4 record and a 3.61 ERA in 94.2 innings despite being hampered with a sports hernia.
The Lake Charles, Louisiana native will start this season as the Saturday starter as junior college transfer Sean Johnson is dealing with mild tendonitis. Smith could settle into the Saturday role or he could shift back into Sunday, it depends on how he performs and how the third starter plays. Regardless, both roles are important as Saturday or Sunday could mean winning a series, salvaging a game, tying it, or avoiding the sweep.
At 6’4 and 230 Lbs. Smith is every bit of a bulldog on the mound, and he pitches like it. He relies on a quality defense behind him as his style is pitching to contact. Smith may not rack up a long list of strikeouts, but he can work quickly through a game with a minimal amount of pitches and works out of jams well.
Ole Miss doesn’t need Smith to be Bobby Wahl, Drew Pomeranz, or anyone else. What they need from Smith is for him to be Sam Smith: the senior leader that can go out, eat some innings and put his team in a position to win each time he’s on the bump.
Recapping the list thus far:
18. Kyle Watson, INF
16. Wyatt Short, LHP
14. Connor Cloyd, OF
13. Holt Perdzock, C
3. Sam Smith, RHP
Michael Quirk is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.