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Healthy Snyder to lead Rebels in senior season

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After his freshman season, Matt Snyder had Ole Miss baseball fans anticipating his sophomore season to see what kind of offensive numbers he could put up, and man, did Snyder deliver.

But what is more amazing than that is how he did it. Snyder dislocated his shoulder early that season, which caused him problems throughout, and he missed 21 games. Despite the injury, Snyder still managed to hit .347, including 12 home runs and 40 RBI. 

Then everyone was anticipating his junior season, which was sure to be his last year in a Rebel uniform, right? Wrong. 

Snyder struggled mightily for a good portion of last season. Due to his shoulder injury from the previous year and a re-tweaking of that elbow before the season, Snyder was forced from his usual first base spot, which left him to fill the role of designated hitter.

While it’s hard to say for sure, a lot of people speculate that Snyder couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm this past season because he could not play out in the field. 

During his junior campaign, Snyder hit .301 with nine home runs and 39 RBI. While those are still very good numbers, they aren’t up to his standards. Then, just a few days before last summer’s MLB Draft, Snyder injured his face when a pitch hit him square in the cheek. The ball broke his jaw and made the next few months a difficult path for the Centreville, Va., native. Following the injury, he fell all the way to the 44th round of the MLB Draft before his hometown Washington Nationals picked him.

Now it’s his senior season, and Snyder’s ready to lead the Ole Miss bats in a lineup that looks to be much improved.

“Seeing what happened (last) weekend with the scrimmages and how well our offense did, I know for a fact that this is the best offense I’ve been with since I’ve been here,” Snyder said. “What coach (Cliff) Godwin has done with us, it’s unbelievable the things we can do as an offense. A lot of the time there is a guy on the team that has a tendency to strike out, but I haven’t seen that one time this year in the fall or in the spring. It’s just so hard to strike us out and to have us not make good contact with the ball. 

“We’re going to be a good test for TCU, and I can’t wait to play those guys. It’s going to be unbelievable; it’s going to be a great weekend.”

As far as Snyder’s health is concerned, he said he’s 100 percent.

“Everything feels great,” he said. “I’ve worked really hard with our athletic trainer, Tony Barnett, on my shoulder the past few years. My face is one of those things you can’t rehab. You just have to give it time. It feels great; everything on my body feels awesome. I’ve worked really hard in the weight room with coach Levy to get stronger and make sure I don’t get hurt as much or at all. 

“I’m looking forward to having a clean bill of health right now. I had no problems this fall or spring with any injuries. I’m extremely excited to get out on the field with the guys and be out there with them every single game.”

Now all of his attention is geared toward the upcoming season. Snyder likes the addition of coach Cliff Godwin to the staff, and according to him, it’s already easy to see the difference.

“Coach Godwin came in right away with all different kinds of things for the offense,” Snyder said. “One of the biggest things I would say we do as a team is early practice hitting. We go in there about an hour before practice, and everyone gets their hacks in. Everybody gets loose for (batting practice). I think that’s probably one of the biggest things for us because we try to focus on the teamwork, the front toss and the (batting practice). We have a sign in the cages that says ‘Build it here. Use it out there.’

“That’s probably the biggest thing for us right now. He’s helped everybody out with the strikeouts a lot too. The approach he tells us is you have to dig your feet in there. Personally, that’s helped me out a lot, and I know that’s helping a whole lot of other guys, especially the energy he has brought to us. There is no way we can’t get better with the things he’s been doing.”