Opportunity didn’t come for Brantley Bell as quickly this season as it did for some other members of Ole Miss’ class of baseball newcomers.
When it did come Bell took full advantage. He now leads the team in hitting at .422 in 45 at-bats spread over 17 appearances, 10 of them starts.
“My first word was baseball. It’s all I ever wanted to do,” said Bell, the son of Jay Bell, a Major League player of 18 seasons and now an MLB assistant.
Part of the reason for the delayed introduction to the college game was the question about where to put Bell in the lineup.
In high school in Phoenix, Ariz., Bell played six different positions and also pitched.
“Defensively, we didn’t really know where he should play. He was a high school shortstop. He played third and second in the fall, but he still needed to work on some things, and we really didn’t know where to put him. That was the biggest thing,” hitting coach Cliff Godwin said.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco encouraged Bell to remain patient, and he finally began to get in games more – eventually in the starting nine – a few weeks ago against Louisiana-Monroe.
He understands that with his notoriety will come more difficult pitches to hit.
“I’m seeing it great right now. Hopefully I can make it last the whole season. The biggest thing or me is to not chase hits but keep a solid approach, and the hits will come,” he said.