Will Allen returns to lead the Rebels behind the plate in 2014 and plans to recapture sophomore success.
by Wesley Boock Athletics Media Relations Student Assistant
Jan. 27, 2014
Coming off the program’s 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in Mike Bianco’s 13-year tenure, the Ole Miss baseball team is gearing up for the upcoming season in hopes of making noise in the 2014 campaign.
In order to achieve the team’s goals, the Rebels will rely on veteran experience from their senior leaders. Senior catcher Will Allen looks to resume duties as the Rebels’ everyday catcher in 2014, a position that was secured by All-American Stuart Turner a year ago.
Last season Allen was third on the team in homeruns (4) and started 56 games primarily as designated hitter. As a senior, Allen will hold the responsibilities of managing the pitching staff, as well as knocking in runs from his spot in the middle of the lineup.
Last season Allen was able to pick up some things from Turner, the 2013 Johnny Bench Award winner.
“Stuart went about everything the right way,” Allen said. “The way he handled the pitching staff and his level of consistency showed me and Austin Knight (Jr., C) a lot.”
Now, it is Allen’s turn and he has every intention of doing things the right way and producing at a high level. However, this role will not be new to him as he started 56 games his sophomore season at catcher with much success. Allen hit .302, drove in 24 runs and recorded a .987 fielding percentage.
“I am not going to hit a ton of ground balls and beat out infield hits,” Allen said. “My job is to get guys in and produce runs. I look for a pitch I can drive in the gap to get the leadoff men home. My job is to do whatever it takes to move guys home.”
Allen and hitting coach Cliff Godwin have tried to make things philosophically simple. He admits that this makes it easier on him, knowing he is on the same page as his coaching staff.
“Coach Godwin does not care about batting average, just producing and scoring runs,” Allen said. “When you know what the coaches expect of you and what you expect of yourself, it makes it easier,” Allen said.
With a mixture of experience and young talent, Allen feels that this year’s team can surprise some people and make a postseason run.
“We have a great group of young guys, along with the veterans that have been here for a while,” Allen said. “We fully expect to make a run regardless of what others think. Our goal every year is to host a regional, host a super regional, make it to Omaha and win a national championship.”
Allen feels that this year’s Rebel squad will soon reap the benefits of the time and effort they have put forth.
“We have worked harder than any other team in the country, physically and mentally, and we plan to start and finish the season strong and eventually reach our goals.”
Allen is excited to recommence a familiar role, and the Rebels’ success will be highly dependent on his experience, leadership and production.
Ole Miss will begin the 2014 season with a three-game series at Stetson on February 14 with a 5:30 p.m. CT first pitch. Stetson returns nine total starters, including pitchers, from a team that finished 26-31 a year ago and finished 5th in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
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