Sophomore Allison Brown, an All-SEC Freshman selection last season, will move to third base this year.
Jan. 31, 2013
This is part three of a four-part series previewing the 2013 Ole Miss softball season. Part three focuses on the Rebels’ infield. Part one on the coaches and schedule can be seen here, and part two on the Rebels’ pitching staff can be read here.
OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebels lost 10 letterwinners and four position starters from last season’s 22-32 team, but do return one of the top freshmen in the Southeastern Conference in Allison Brown, who will move to her natural position of third base after playing shortstop as a rookie. Also returning for the Rebels in the infield is first baseman Londen Ladner and catcher Marina Parra.
One of the great new luxuries to the Rebels this season is a word they weren’t familiar with in 2012; depth.
“We really didn’t have anywhere to go last year if any of our infielders got hurt,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. “We said a lot of prayers last year. This year, the cool thing is, we do have depth. We have young talent, we have kids who we’ve made sure know how to play multiple positions, and I’m excited for it. If something happens and we have to move Browny (Allison Brown) back to shortstop, we have Melina Preciado who can play third base, and we have Marina Parra, who was a third baseman.”
Playing in the hot corner this year, Thees is looking for Brown to build upon her exceptional freshman campaign. After leading the team at the plate with team-highs in RBI (36) and doubles (10) as a freshman, Brown will be in her natural position and was voted by her classmates as the sophomore captain. For Thees, having Brown at third base is something she’s looking forward to seeing.
“She was so great last year,” said Thees of Brown’s play at shortstop. “She was one of, if not the best defensive shortstop in the SEC, which is saying something in our league. She did that because we needed her to. And I will tell everybody, as good of a shortstop as she was last year; she’s an even better third baseman. I look forward to her being over in the hot corner, which gets more balls in our game than anywhere else. If I had to put one person on my team who I wanted to get more balls than anybody else, it would be Allison Brown.”
At first base, Ladner returns as one of the Rebels’ top bats, and in the words of Thees, “is stronger and quicker than she’s ever been since I’ve been here.” Freshman Madi Osias will also be battling for playing time at first base with impressive high school and club credentials.
“Londen is going to probably add a little bit more power numbers to the numbers you’ve seen in the past here, a few more doubles, stretching it out a little bit,” Thees said. “Her glove work at first base last year was pretty good for it being the first time she ever played it, but I think this year you’re really going to see an even better first baseman than we did last year. Londen is that person on our team who can just stay focused, but has perspective in life as well. She gets out there and just wants to win. That’s it. That’s the only thing on her mind is winning.
“I’ve got Madi Osias playing first base with Londen. Madi was a high school top-100 kid in the country. She was a first baseman, pitcher and hitter. She hit over .400 for her high school, broke all kinds of records. We have to find a way to get her into the lineup. It’s a fun problem to have.”
Behind the plate will be Parra, who started the majority of games last season, senior Kelly Nolan and freshman Natalie Martinez. The depth at catcher, similar to the infield as a whole, is abnormal to Thees, but something she obviously welcomes.
“Marina did fantastic last year,” Thees said. “She probably caught too many games, so we’re excited to have Kelly Nolan back, who had her first full fall of her career, and she’s a senior. She’s going to help us out a little bit. And then we have our freshman Natalie Martinez, who probably is my biggest surprise of the entire fall. She was one of our best hitters this fall. She absolutely lit it up in every scrimmage. Offensively, she got in and she hit.”
At shortstop, the Rebels will look to Haley Culley, a 5-foot-7 freshman from Mesa, Ariz., to take over the position in a similar fashion to what Brown did in 2012 as a newcomer. Thees said they are expecting big things from Culley and understand they’re putting a lot on her shoulders, but they believe she can handle it.
“She’s probably the most gifted natural athlete that I’ve ever coached in all my years,” Thees said. “It’s absolutely amazing how the kid moves on the field – she doesn’t know what in the world she’s doing, she’s just doing it, and it is fun to watch.”
The Rebels have Alyssa Invergo and Parra battling for the second base job. While Parra excelled at catcher last season, second base is the junior’s natural position, and is a position she is familiar with.
“Second base is more of Marina’s natural position that we worked her at last year quite a bit, and she even played one or two games over there last year. For us, it’s going to be who’s hitting and who’s a better matchup. We have lefty/righty combos, so maybe we want a righty facing this pitcher and a lefty facing this one because both Haley and Alyssa are lefty hitters.”
UPDATE: Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.Here are more of Coach Freeze's interviews in Bristol. Scroll down to the earlier post to hear him on Ivan Maisel's podcast. Listen: Freeze on the Paul Finebaum Show Listen: Freeze on the Freddie Coleman Show... read more
All 14 Southeastern Conference football coaches will travel to ESPN's annual mid-summer football coaches "car wash" - in which guests appear across multiple programs and platforms over one day - at ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters on Monday and Tuesday. Ole... read more
Ole Miss took its turn at the annual SEC Media Days on Thursday. Joining head coach Hugh Freeze was senior quarterback Bo Wallace, junior defensive end C.J. Johnson and senior safety Cody Prewitt. Here are a few related SEC Media... read more
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said on day one that his expectations were to make the program relevant in the Southeastern Conference Western Division. With a full allotment of 85 scholarship players and more depth of both sides of... read more
Once overshadowed, Wallace now finds himself more firmly in the spotlight after the departure of seven of the league's eight top passers. The dean of SEC quarterbacks, Wallace is the league's leading returner in total offense, passing yards and passing... read more
Before taking his turn at the podium in the main room at SEC Media Days on Thursday, head coach Hugh Freeze met with members of the Ole Miss local media and addressed a wide variety of topics. Here are some... read more
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Three of SEC Media Days, which featured Steve Shaw (SEC), Justin Connolly (ESPN),... read more
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day Two of SEC Media Days, which featured South Carolina, Mississippi State, Texas A&M... read more
NFL.com CFB 24/7 has counted down the 14 college football players to watch -- and some other college football topics -- in varying categories in 2014. Below are the highlights for Ole Miss and the link to the complete 14... read more
Ole Miss will take its turn at SEC Media Days on Thursday. Here are a few links to stories of interest for Ole Miss fans from Day 1 of SEC Media Days, which featured SEC commissioner Mike Slive, Auburn, Florida... read more
Former Ole Miss player Zack Cozart, now a member of the Cincinnati Reds, was named the best defensive shortstop in baseball for the first half of the 2014 season. ESPN Insider Scott Spratt selected one player from either league at... read more
The Season: Ole Miss Baseball: Omaha Bound from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 1: Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 2: Super Regionals from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo. Chapter 3: CWS Games 1 & 2... read more
Three student-athletes and the head coach of each of the 14 Southeastern Conference football programs will participate in SEC Football Media Days, July 14-17, at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala.Ole Miss will take its... read more
Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy talks about the addition of assistant coach Tony Madlock and the new-look roster for the upcoming season, among other topics, on the SEC Summer Men's Basketball Coaches Media Teleconference Monday. Here are the highlights:Ole... read more