By Adam Brown
Ole Miss baseball returns to the diamond in a few short weeks to open its 2021 campaign.
The Rebels have a very talented club returning to take Swayze Field, one of its most talented members being sophomore catcher Hayden Dunhurst.
“Hayden is one of the best catchers in the country,” Bianco said. “A guy that can do it all.”
As a freshman, the Carriere, Mississippi, native had a Freshman All-American season behind the dish.
“Defensively he has been spectacular behind the plate receiving, blocking and throwing,” Bianco said.
Since the last out was recorded, Dunhurst has spent the off-season preparing for this upcoming year.
“Working out with my dad,” Dunhurst said. “We have a facility back home where I got to train during the COVID season and in the summer. It hasn’t been that big of a difference other than being up here and around everybody.”
Last season, offensively at the plate, Dunhurst delivered 16 runs on 14 hits, five home runs and 15 RBI’s in 17 games.
Going into the offseason a focus for the Rebels catcher was “hitting, being more consistent and able to use the left side of the field more against left-handers.”
“Being able to hit breaking balls better,” Dunhurst said. “Just being a more fundamentally sound hitter.”
This season, Ole Miss has the same rotation on the hill from last season, and Dunhurst is familiar with all three starters.
“I think they all have their unique things,” Dunhurst said. “Catching guys like that makes you realize that they are some of the best in the country, three in the nation. Even when you are catching bullpens during the week they are throwing their fastball 95 mph from black-to-black chest high to knee high every time. It is just really fun catching somebody that knows what they are doing, knows the pitch, where to locate all of their pitches how to read batters and it is unique.”
Opening up in Arlington in a few weeks means a lot to Dunhurst.
“Since I am a COVID freshman, it seems like I haven’t played baseball since my senior year of high school,” Dunhurst said. “Not having a full season and getting to do everything I am happiest as ever to get to play. I think the team is too and we are excited.”
The Rebels return all but two members from last season’s run after Anthony Servideo and Tyler Keenan got drafted.
“(The chemistry) has gotten better since then with all the guys,” Dunhurst said. “The pitching staff and how much we have brought back has been amazing. We have brought back every single guy and they are if not better this year.”
Dunhurst and the Rebels take the diamond for the first time 2021 against No. 10 TCU in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m. CT.