Ole Miss sophomore second baseman Tate Blackman has had a great start to the 2016 season.
This season Blackman has seen the ball remarkably well at the plate. Through the past seven games, he has been on a hitting streak. With his batting average charting out at .440 in 25 attempts at the plate with 11 hits, two doubles and a home run. He has also driven in eight RBI.
He came to Ole Miss from Altamonte Springs, Florida where he played at Lake Brantley High School.
Blackman chose coming to Oxford after being recruited by Cliff Godwin. Godwin used to recruit at University of Central Florida which is thirty minutes from Blackman’s house so he would often come and watch Blackman’s high school team play.
Blackman said, “My summer ball coach (Matt Kirby) is really close with Cliff and he said, ‘Hey Matt, I really like Tate. Do you think he is interested?’ And I talked to him a lot and I came on a visit. I loved Oxford, I loved all the coaches – Coach B, Coach Laf – I really just fell in love with the town.”
He loved the atmosphere at the Swayze Field. “(Having) ten-thousand (people per) game was what I wanted to play at on the college level,” Blackman said, “and this is where I wanted to be. This is the best place that gave me the opportunity.”
Blackman found his love for the game at an early age of four when his father and three older brothers went to the batting cage in their back yard.
He said, “My dad would take us out there and just hit baseballs around. My dad would throw to my brothers and when it would be my turn to hit, he would throw me like two or three ’cause I was only like four years old. And he would say ‘Next!’ and I was like ‘No, I want to hit the whole bucket.’ My dad knew that I was going to be a special kid.”
Blackman has played baseball every year since. He said, “I guess I was really good at it so I stuck with it and now I am here… and I haven’t lost the passion for it.”
His father and three brothers helped him with his journey in becoming the athlete he is now. His father helped him when he was young, and when he was in middle school he picked up techniques from watching his brothers play. His second oldest brother, Teddy, helped him work on his hitting swings. After Teddy left for college, Blackman worked with a hitting coach.
He said, “His name was Brian. I would go up there when I was a freshman in high school and work with him everyday. He really took me under his wings and told me if I ever needed somebody to throw to me to just come by every day… He has really been a close friend of mine for the past couple of years. If I am struggling or anything, I can just call him up and he will give me advice – ‘Clear your mind and trust your ability.'”
Blackman kept those words in his heart as he spent this past summer in the Cape Cod League as he played for the Falmouth Commodores.
He said, “I faced some really good guys. I give a lot of my credit to this season on the Cape for preparing me. I faced some really good arms day in and day out.”
Last season when the Rebels hosted Alabama in a three game series, Blackman reflected on the size of the crowd – the kind of crowd that drew him to the Ole Miss Rebels.
He said, “I would say last year against Alabama there were almost 15,000 people. As a freshman, it was very nerve-wracking for sure. The largest I had every played at before that was maybe 8,000. It was an eye-opener to play in front of that many people, but it’s also good that they are cheering for you and not against you, for sure.”
With the yesterday’s win over Memphis, Blackman and the Diamond Rebels are now on the road to Conway, South Carolina to face Ball State, No. 18 Costal Carolina and Cincinnati over the weekend.
Adam Brown is the sports editor at HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.