Team Captains Look to Lead Ole Miss Baseball in 2016
Colby Bortles, Matt Denny and J.B. Woodman will serve as team captains this season
Feb. 15, 2016

By Morgan Goff, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations

As the 2016 season draws near, the Ole Miss baseball team is as ready as ever for the first pitch to be thrown on February 19. The Rebels bring in a staggering 16 talented newcomers and boast 18 returning players. Team captains Colby Bortles, Matt Denny and J.B. Woodman are eager to help drive the team to further success.

Bortles, a junior out of Oviedo, Florida, is positioned to be the starting third baseman once again. In 2015, he appeared in 56 games, making 53 starts at third. Bortles also finished the year with a .442 slugging percentage that ranked second on the team, with 14 multi-hit games.

Denny is a senior left-handed pitcher from Jackson, Mississippi who shines both on and off the field. He was named to the SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll in 2015 and holds a 4-2 overall record when taking the mound.

Woodman accompanies Bortles as another junior team captain. The Orlando, Florida native was also named to the 2015 SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll. As a two-year starter, he is noted as one of two Rebels to start all 58 games last season. In 53 of those games, Woodman started in center field while five were in right field. He has been in the Ole Miss lineup since he stepped on campus in 2014, when he was named a Freshman All-American.

The team comes together to select the team captains and all are chosen to lead the Rebels for a reason. Bortles, Denny and Woodman realize the great honor the title carries.

“It means a lot to be a team captain,” explained Denny. “In a way you are held to a higher standard, which is one of the things I tried to focus on this year. I have seen a lot of good leaders before me, like Will Allen and Bobby Wahl. After watching them, I wanted to do what those leaders before me have done and help teach the younger guys.”


 

 

Bortles, Denny and Woodman were all able to experience what it feels like to make it to the coveted College World Series in 2014. As young players, the three watched as the captains led the way for the Rebels to become one of only eight college baseball teams to reach Omaha, Nebraska.

But they are hungry for more. With the combination of veteran players and newcomers, the Rebels seek continued success.

“We have a lot of veteran guys coming back and a lot of good, talented, young guys. Something to really look for is watching the younger guys develop under the wings of some of the older guys as we get going into the season,” said Denny.

Of course, the goals are nothing short of the highest expectations. The team certainly aspires to make it to Omaha once again.

“I think this should be a good year; we are really talented. It should be a fun one. We want to get our team back to the College World Series,” explained Woodman.

It is hard to disagree with the notion of something special within this team. The Rebels are in this as one big family.

“Our team chemistry really stands out this year,” Bortles said. “We are like a big family. I think that is really going to be good in the long run. In the middle of the season, regardless of whether things are going well or aren’t going the way we want them to, we will be able to stick together and pull through.”

All individuals and teams will face their own struggles. Because of the examples set by those team captains before them, this year’s leaders know how critical it is for them to keep the team’s bond strong, while leading by more than just their words.

“Even when you aren’t doing so well, the team looks to you as a leader so you have to know you are going to get through it and do something good,” Bortles explained. “Leading by example is a big thing.”

The combination of the Rebels’ team chemistry, drive for success and the leadership of the team captains, positions Ole Miss Baseball for another great season under head coach Mike Bianco.

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