May 22, 2009
University of Georgia baseball coach David Perno can appreciate a good catcher.
After playing the position at Georgia from 1989-91 before becoming a coach, Perno understands what it takes to be a catcher.
He calls the skills he sees in University of Mississippi senior Kyle Henson "tremendous."
"He''s been good every time he''s played against us," Perno said.
Henson has been one of the Rebels'' biggest surprises this season. He leads the team in home runs (eight) and has driven in 31 runs.
He was selected the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week earlier this week after going 6-for-12 in the final conference series of the season against Arkansas.
"I''m just trying to be consistent," Henson said. "I had a good weekend last week, but I just wanted to carry it over to the (SEC) tournament and keep swinging."
Henson did that in the first game of the event in Hoover, Ala. He had three singles Wednesday in a 6-3 loss to Georgia to extend his hitting streak to seven.
But the streak and Ole Miss'' stay at the SEC tournament ended Thursday after he went hitless in a 12-2 loss to Florida.
Henson has 10 multi-hit games and four three-hit games this season.
"He''s been important in the middle of our lineup for the last month or so," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "He''s helped this club in so many ways offensively. He''s been doing a good job of getting hits."
Henson, a native of Conroe, Texas, came to the Rebels after a two-year stay at San Jacinto College Community College, where he hit .315 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.
After not playing for Ole Miss last year while sitting out an NCAA suspension and recovering from an elbow injury, Henson began the year splitting time with veteran catcher Brett Basham.
Henson has started six of the past seven games.
"There was a lot to overcome," Henson said. "I''m just trying to prove to myself that I could go out there and play. The biggest thing I''m trying to do all year is be consistent with the bat, play good defense, and let the rest take care of itself."
Prior to the SEC tournament, Henson had a fielding percentage of .988 and only three errors.
Bianco, who was a catcher at LSU, said Henson''s contributions has worked well with the Rebels'' pitchers.
"He''s done a good job behind the plate for us," Bianco said. "He threw out a guy at the plate (Wednesday) and really added something to our every-day lineup."
Henson and Ole Miss (40-17) will learn Monday if they will get a chance to be one of the 16 host sites for NCAA Regionals.