More Than A `C' On Their Chests

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Austin Anderson
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Austin Anderson
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

May 8, 2014

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. — Will Allen and Austin Anderson have seen and gone through a lot, good and bad, over their four years in the red and blue. They have donned and taken great pride in wearing the letter “C” above their right breast in their senior seasons.

They have shared not only the honor as co-captains, but also stories of selflessness that have helped propel Ole Miss to a top-15 ranking and regional host and national seed consideration with two weekends left in the regular season.

“You first have to look at how they’re selected, and they’re selected by their peers,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “We ask the players to vote for the captains at the end of the fall. Both of those guys were all by themselves selected. They were great choices, but you never know. As a coach, leadership is one of those subjective things.

“Now, that we have gotten to this point, and we’re in the final stretch of the season, we have had a really good year. There are a lot of reasons for that. One of the things that’s not talked about is the leadership from the older guys, like our captains, Will and Austin. They’re terrific players, guys that have done it on the field, as far as their statistics. They have also been great leaders and great mentors to some of the younger guys.”

Allen and Anderson were summer league baseball teammates with the Orlando Scorpions, which also produced Auston Bousfield and Sikes Orvis, and have been steady contributors since they stepped on campus. However, they have each faced change on the diamond and responded with career seasons.

As a sophomore, Allen started all 56 games played at catcher, and hit over .300. Enter Stuart Turner, who came in and won the Johnny Bench Award, which is presented to the nation’s top collegiate catcher, while Allen moved to designated hitter for his junior season. Back at his natural position for his senior year, Allen ranks second in the SEC in batting average (.359) and RBIs (51).

“The players see that Will is selfless in that way,” Bianco said. “He’s a guy who got beat out, handled it great and admirably, everything you would want as a coach, and then he came back and he’s having the best year of his career.”

“He’s still one of my best friends on that team, and we keep in touch,” said Allen of Turner, who is now in the Minnesota Twins organization. “Getting to watch him play, day in and day out, I learned a lot of stuff. Once he got drafted and moved on, I realized I had the opportunity I had to get back out there like I did my sophomore year.”

Anderson, who started 39 games at shortstop over his freshman and sophomore seasons, started all 58 games played at shortstop this past season, and was third on the team in batting average (.310). Enter Errol Robinson, the first true freshman to start at shortstop since Zack Cozart in 2005. With Robinson at shortstop, Anderson moved to third base, where he has responded with a career-best .339 batting average.

“Austin was basically the starting shortstop for most of his three years here,” Bianco said. “We move Errol Robinson, a true freshman, to shortstop, and we move Austin over to third base, and he’s been terrific with it. That’s helped Errol’s development. Errol wouldn’t be having as good a season as he is having if it wasn’t for Austin being willing to do that, and then there’s the mentoring that Austin has done from a guy who’s played that position.”

“As you get older and younger guys come in, you gain more confidence because you can teach them and show them the way and make them feel comfortable,” Anderson said. “Experience and confidence helps you build that leadership.”

On a team with no preseason All-Americans, the senior class, led by Allen and Anderson, has put the team first, and that’s one of the reasons Ole Miss has had success and can position itself, with a strong finish, to play postseason baseball at Swayze Field for the first time in their careers.

“Those are two stories that epitomizes how selfless those guys are,” Bianco said. “It demonstrates what kind of people they are and how much confidence they have. It’s not just being selfless, but it’s also having enough confidence in yourself and your ability that you can move or you can do different things. When they got here, they didn’t foresee that, but they have grown from that. They realize that things happen, and it’s how you handle them and react to them, and certainly those guys reacted in the right way.”

“We wanted to finish strong and leave our legacy, individually and as a team,” Allen said. “We have been on some really good teams, and our freshman year, we were on a team that didn’t make the SEC Tournament. For us, every year your goal is to win the SEC, host a Regional, host a Super Regional, go to Omaha and win the National Championship. All of that stuff is still ahead of us. We have put ourselves in a good position, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the year and see what is has in store for us.”

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Nkemdiche Headlines Retooled D-Line

      Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - Football

      The return of junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and additions of sophomore Fadol Brown and freshman Marquis Haynes have changed the face of the defensive line, but freshman All-American Robert Nkemdiche remains front and center.  With a season of experience... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Sneak Peak

      Monday, August 18, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football 2014: Episode 1 Sneak Peak from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Wallace: 'It's My Offense'

      Monday, August 18, 2014 - Football

      The dean of Southeastern Conferences quarterbacks and the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing touchdowns, senior Bo Wallace is as healthy and confident as ever, and he's also assumed a more vocal leadership role on the... read more

    • VIDEO: We Are Ole Miss

      Saturday, August 16, 2014 - Athletics

      We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.In case you missed it, "Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss" from earlier this year: Forward Together: We Are Ole Miss from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Football: Fins Up (Part 2)

      Saturday, August 16, 2014 - Football

      In case you missed it, Fins Up (Part 1) from last year:... read more

    • Rebels Battle Injuries on Defense

      Friday, August 15, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze confirmed that junior cornerback Carlos Davis suffered a torn ACL and will likely have surgery Monday. Davis joins sophomore cornerback Tee Shepard and junior safety Chief Brown on the list of players expected to miss... read more

    • Recapping the SEC Network Launch

      Friday, August 15, 2014 - Athletics

      The launch of the SEC Network shows the growth and vision of the 14 schools in the conference. #OleMiss-- Coach Alex (@apsimms2) August 15, 2014 That was fun! And the @SECNetwork is only getting started. #SECStoried finished strong. Great... read more

    • Ole Miss and the SEC Network Launch

      Thursday, August 14, 2014 - Athletics

      Tonight is the night!! #SECNetworkLaunch pic.twitter.com/73UYs8B0Hg-- SEC Network (@SECNetwork) August 14, 2014 Historic day for SEC & #OleMiss as we celebrate the launch of the @SECNetwork at 5pm CST! Congrats to everyone who made it happen!-- Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) August... read more

    • Luke Breaks Down the Offensive Line

      Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - Football

      The center and right tackle position battles have been two of the biggest story lines of fall camp, but as the Rebels prepped for their second preseason scrimmage Wednesday night, they are closer to solidifying the depth chart along the... read more

    • Attitude, Effort are Front and Center in Process

      Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - Volleyball

      "Buy-in" is a common term thrown around by coaches. How will first-year Ole Miss head volleyball coach Steven McRoberts measure buy-in, as the team continues its preseason work for the upcoming season? Attitude and effort. "If we bring those two... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Soccer Day One

      Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - Soccer

      THE SEASON: Soccer - Day One from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Kennedy Recaps Trip, Talks New-Look Roster

      Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - Men's Basketball

      The Ole Miss men's basketball team wrapped up its Bahamian exhibition tour with a perfect 2-0 record. Head coach Andy Kennedy recapped the trip, talked about the chemistry, depth and experience of a new-look roster heading into the fall. The... read more

    • Looking at CB, OL, WR and RB Depth

      Monday, August 11, 2014 - Football

      Sophomore defensive end Fadol Brown and sophomore cornerback Kailo Moore returned from their respective injuries, while sophomore Tee Shepard remains out with a toe injury. The results from Shepard's MRI performed on Saturday are being sent to Birmingham, head coach... read more

    • Ole Miss Programming on SEC Network

      Monday, August 11, 2014 - Football

      The SEC Network will debut on Thursday, August 14 with a three-hour SEC Now that will visit every SEC school and the 21 sports within the SEC. The first two weeks of the network will also feature customized programming to... read more

    • The Week That Was: Ole Miss Football

      Sunday, August 10, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss continues its preparations for the the 2014 season with the second full week of fall camp starting Monday. Here's a look back at the first full week of fall camp with some observations and takeaways, as well as... read more