Fishing and Frisbee Golf: How Ole Miss Baseball Survived Their Longest Offseason Ever
When you come to Ole Miss to play baseball, you assume your offseason won't start until June. This year, after a 16-1 start to the regular season, the Rebels had their season cut short in mid-March due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ole Miss baseball team had an unprecedented amount of free time this summer.
As we get into starting to cover baseball more, let's get started with something a little bit less serious – what did they Rebels do with all this free time?
Hint: there wasn't much baseball.
"It took a while mentally to get off the mound. I was so frustrated going from pitching against High Point or whatever to nothing," said starting pitcher Doug Nikhazy. "I went home and stopped throwing for two weeks then picked it back up.
"I picked up frisbee golf. Did that a bit because why not. Baseball wise, it definitely makes us so much more grateful for being able to go out on the field and being healthy. I tried to refine my mental game and stuff like that, just to make sure I'm all there going into a big season."
Nikhazy worked out entirely at his house in Florida over the offseason. Much of the time was just spent throwing with his brother.
That was a relatively common theme. Many of these kids have gotten so accustomed to spending their summers drowning in baseball. For someone that's been playing at a high enough level throughout high school to end up playing in the SEC, they haven't exactly had a normal summer in years.
"I picked up fishing a little bit. Went fishing a little bit more with my friends and family," said Peyton Chatagnier. "I was incredibly frustrated, but it was good to be home. It's probably the only time when I was in college that I'll get to go home like that and spend that much time with my family. So that was good, but obviously wished we were playing."
Chatagnier, who started at second as a true freshman for Ole Miss in 2020 has been working out both at shortstop and second base this offseason. He says he has 'seriously no idea 'about where he'll be playing this year, with two really good freshman middle infielders coming in.
Unlike Nikhazy and Chatagnier, who went home and almost shut it down baseball-wise for a bit, another starting pitcher in Gunnar Hoglund was planning on still competing during the offseason...
... right up until he couldn't anymore:
"I spent a lot of time with my brothers. I was playing lot of basketball, a lot of ping pong, a lot of cornhole. We did all sorts of things," said pitcher Gunnar Hoglund. "I kept throwing when I got home, keeping my arm fresh and ready. Then the Cape got cancelled and I ramped it down and shut down my arm for about a month."
A lot of Rebels play in the Cape Cod Baseball League during the offseason, where many of college baseball's best go to New England to continue competing in the offseason. In 2020, that couldn't even happen.
Ole Miss has been back to their standard intrasquad fall slate of late. After having to shut down the program for about two weeks after a COVID-19 outbreak within the roster, they're now back to three-to-four intrasquad scrimmages a week as they gear up for the 2021 season.
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