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Baseball Notebook: Wrapping up fall practice

Top-five recruting class to be counted on early

The 2011 recruiting class, ranked third nationally by Collegiate Baseball and fifth nationally by Baseball America, is finishing up their first fall practice that lasted six weeks and included the Red-Blue scrimmage October 15, 17 other intra-squad scrimmages and this week’s Red-Blue World Series.

Nine players from this class were selected in this past June’s Major League Baseball Draft. To this point, it’s the pitchers, led by freshman right-hander Josh Laxer, that stands out to head coach Mike Bianco.

“To this point, (Josh) Laxer, by evidence of him throwing in the Red-Blue scrimmage has done a little bit better than the other freshman pitchers,” Bianco said. “Hawtin (Buchanan) and Chris (Ellis) have done well and just need to continue to improve.”

Other newcomers Bianco mentioned were junior college transfer Andrew Mistone, who is competing with sophomore Preston Overbey at third base, and freshmen Will Jamison, Auston Bousfield and Senquez Golson, who will all be competing with junior Tanner Mathis and senior Zach Kirksey for playing time in the outfield.

Snyder returns for senior season

Matt Snyder, who has battled left shoulder injuries each of the past two season, was selected in the 44th round by the Washington Nationals, but decided to return for his senior season. Last season, despite injuries, Snyder played in all 55 games, hit .301 and led the team with nine home runs and 39 runs batted in.

“To get a player like Matt (Snyder) back for his senior year doesn’t happen much. Matt has been one of the best hitters that we’ve had since I’ve been here in 11 years,” he said. “He’s just an impact player in the middle of the lineup. To get him back is big. He’s as healthy as he’s ever been.”

Wahl in line to be the Friday night starter

All three of last season’s weekend starters - Matt Crouse, Austin Wright and David Goforth - were all selected in the MLB Draft and are now playing professional baseball. Sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl, who burst onto the scene last season in the closer’s role, is the leading candidate to be the Friday night starter. He appeared in 18 games and posted a 4.80 earned run average with four saves.

“If we were to start today, Bobby (Wahl) has kind of separated himself as the Friday night guy,” he said. “He’s done terrific in the intersquad-games, and it’s probably the role that we imagined him in when we recruited him. He’s done terrific and think he’s going to be able to solidify that role on Friday night.”

If the season were to start today, Bianco said senior right-hander R.J. Hively would the Saturday night starter. Bianco is less sure who would be the Sunday night starter, but he mentioned the freshmen and junior right-hander Tanner Bailey. Junior right-hander Brett Huber is expected to return to his closer’s role, where he earned Freshman All-America honors.

Road trips to TCU and Louisville to prepare Ole Miss for conference play

Bianco and Ole Miss baseball released the 2012 schedule last month that include 32 home games and seven series against NCAA Tournament teams from last season.

Highlighting the non-conference is the three-game series at TCU to open the season. The Horned Frogs have reached eight straight NCAA Tournaments, including the College World Series two years ago.

After the TCU series, Ole Miss returns home for a 12-game home stand, before a two-game midweek series at Lousville, before the start of Southeastern Conference play. The Cardinals have made four of the last five NCAA Tournaments.

“Certainly to open up at TCU and then, a few weeks after, to go to Louisville is certainly going to be a big challenge for us and something that’s going to prepare us,” he said. “You need to be prepared going into our league.”

In conference play, Ole Miss will play host to Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee. The Rebels will go on to the road to play Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.

Of the 10 SEC teams on the schedule, six teams were selected to the NCAA Tournament, three reached the College World Series and South Carolina defeated Florida in the championship series.

Red team takes game one of the Red-Blue World Series/Pizza Bowl

Kirksey, Mistone and Snyder all homered, while sophomore right-hander Bobby Wahl pitched four scoreless innings to help the Red team to a 10-4 win. The two teams will play the second game of the best-of-three series tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., with an if-necessary game three set for 2:30 p.m. on Friday at Swayze Field.

Ole Miss Sports Information contributed to this report.