Coaches say Rebs’ pitching, Henrys key to regional|[06/01/07]

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 1, 2007

Two-time regional champion Ole Miss is a consenus favorite to add a third straight title when the Oxford Regional begins today at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.

Four of the reasons why Troy coach Mark Pierce, Southern Miss’ Corky Palmer and Sam Houston State’s Mark Johnson like the Rebels are All-SEC pitchers Will Kline and Lance Lynn and two brothers from Vicksburg in Justin and Jordan Henry.

&#8220Those two Henry kids do a super job of setting the table for their (Ole Miss) offense. Both of them can really run well,” Palmer said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Ole Miss (37-23) opens regional play tonight at 7 against Sam Houston State (38-22). Southern Miss (38-21) meets Troy University (34-25) at 3 p.m.

Pierce, whose Trojans played one of the region’s toughest schedules, said he knows Ole Miss will be a difficult out in Oxford.

&#8220I saw them a little bit last year in their regional and again against Miami,” Pierce said. &#8220They have a very good ballclub and they will be tough to beat in Oxford.”

Johnson, who led Texas A&M to a pair of College World Series appearances, said his Bearkats will come in as the big unknown.’

&#8220We haven’t played any of these teams before. But I’ve seen No. 4 seeds win it before, so it can happen,” Johnson said.

Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco says his team can’t take the Bearkats lightly.

&#8220When you look at their numbers, they do a lot of things well. They hit .319 as a club, they have a team earned run average of 4.14 and they have a .969 fielding percentage. They are a team that is playing well right now,” Bianco said.

The Rebels will need its big two pitching guns of Lynn and Kline to step up. He also expects the Henry brothers to continue hitting.

&#8220Justin is coming off a great (SEC) tournament. He had a little slump late, but he’s now back to really swinging the bat well again,” Bianco said.

Justin Henry’s tear through the league tournament surged him back into the team lead in batting average at .378. He was named to the All-SEC Tournament team for the third straight year, a feat Bianco calls remarkable.

&#8220I think he’s the only player from the SEC to make the All-Tournament team three years in a row and then do it in three different positions,” Bianco said.

Justin earned all-tournament honors as a designated hitter as a freshman, a second baseman last year and an outfielder this season.

His brother, Jordan, was recently named the SEC Freshman of the Year. He is currently third on the team in hitting at .365.

&#8220Jordan had a good (SEC) tournament and continues to set the table for our offense at the top of the line-up,” Bianco said.

The Rebel coach said he expects to start Kline (6-2, 3.68 ERA) against Sam Houston State.