Kentucky baseball coach seeks own identity

March 11, 2009

Danny P Smith -


Kentucky baseball coach Gary Henderson has a preference for an identity for his program. 


After taking over for John Cohen (now the coach at Mississippi State), Henderson would like to see a little more power from his future clubs. 


"There is some difference between my ideas and John''s ideas," Henderson said. "This is a different group, but I''ve told some people that I''m a huge fan of the three-run home run. We''re young offensively, but I''m not sure if we can get power down the road. I''m definitely not opposed to home runs or power, but we''ve just got to find a way to win baseball games." 


Henderson is one of three new coaches in the Southeastern Conference. Cohen has begun his tenure at his alma mater Mississippi State, while John Pawlowski has taken over at Auburn. 


Kentucky, which is off to a 10-2 start this season, plays at LSU to open the Southeastern Conference schedule this weekend. 


LSU coach Paul Manieri knows there will be a certain amount of unknown with Henderson''s version of the Wildcats. 


"We haven''t seen Gary as a new coach," Manieri said. "We know one thing about Kentucky is they have two good lefthanded pitchers. We''re not sure how to prepare for what offensive strategy they may have, but we do know they have a hard-nosed style." 


Mississippi State (8-4) is well underway with its season under Cohen. 


The Bulldogs just returned from a long trip to Hawaii and lost three of four games there. They play a doubleheader with Valparaiso at 2:30 today before playing host to South Carolina for their SEC opener. 


The Bulldogs will go with junior right-hander Ricky Bowen (0-0, 4.66), of Jasper, Ala., in the first game against Valparaiso. Freshman left-hander David Hayes, of Homewood, Ala., is set to make his collegiate debut in a starting role in the nightcap, which is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. 


Valparaiso (4-6) will go with sophomore right-handers Bryce Shafer (2-0, 6.19) and senior Alex Berry (0-2, 8.44) as starters, although their order in the day''s pitching rotation hasn''t been announced. 


Cohen has been trying to get the program turned back around after last season''s 23-33 record. 


"It''s been fun to be back at Mississippi State," Cohen said. "From the word go, recruiting has been a huge part of what our staff has been about. We''re trying to change a little bit of the climate from what happened a year ago. We haven''t had kids who''ve had a lot of success on the field. They''ve seen it maybe from the bench, but not on the field and we''ve really tried to work hard on the players and help them be more successful." 


Pawlowski has taken over for Tom Slater at Auburn, which is 10-4. The Tigers beat in-state rival Alabama 8-7 in Montgomery on Tuesday night. 


Evaluating talent and getting players in the right positions is the main challenge Pawlowski sees at Auburn. 


"We''re starting to figure out those roles," Pawlowski said. "We''re trying a lot of different things and we''re beginning to learn our personnel." 


One established coach who does not seem to have that problem is Dave Perno at Georgia. 


Perno''s Bulldogs are undefeated (13-0) and ranked No. 1 in the country. 


n Ole Miss 8 , Austin Peay 7: At Oxford, pinch-hitter David Phillips homered to right field on the first pitch of the ninth inning to lift No. 14 Ole Miss (8-3) at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. 


The Governors had just pushed two runs across in the top of the ninth to tie the score 7-7 when Phillips entered the game as a pinch hitter. The junior took the first pitch deep over the wall in right field for his first home run of the season. 


Scott Bittle (1-1) pitched the ninth to earn the win in relief. He allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts. 


Dylan Ray (1-1) suffered the loss. He worked 1 2/3 innings and allowed the one run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout. 


Brett Basham was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Kevin Mort was 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI for Ole Miss. Matt Smith was 3-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. 


The teams will meet again at 6:30 p.m. today at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. 


n Southern Miss 5, New Orleans 2: At New Orleans, Southern Miss (9-4) scored four runs in the eighth inning to rally past New Orleans (5-8) at Maestri Field. 


James Ewing led the Southern Miss with two hits, three RBIs, and a run scored. Brian Dozier and Taylor Walker had hits to extend their hitting streaks. Dozier has hit safely in all 13 games this season, while Walker has hit in the past 10 games. 


Cody Schlagel picked up his third win of the season, working 2 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing only one hit and striking out five, including the first three hitters he faced. 


Collin Cargill earned his first save of the season, pitching two innings without allowing a run.