A start of at least six innings had been a way of life for Ole Miss right-hander Sam Smith — until the last two weeks.
The Rebels’ No. 3 SEC starter had been the model of consistency, but he’s lasted just a combined 5.2 innings in the last two games, a no-decision at Kentucky and a loss against Arkansas.
The problem has been location, something Smith has to have to win. He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, and he’s at his best when he can pin-point his pitches. That’s something he and assistant coach Carl Lafferty have been working on this week. The focus has been on Smith’s delivery.
“Me and coach Laff have been working. It’s a little bit on my delivery. It’s a little bit of mental stuff there too. I went in there, and I hit a guy (against Arkansas). You don’t want to do that again, but you’ve got to flush it and keep going. It’s mostly mechanical,” Smith said.
Smith goes into the Georgia series at 5-4 with a 3.19 ERA in 67.2 innings. He’s walked 14 and struck out 37.
Smith believes the mental part of Sunday’s outing was as important as the mechanics of his delivery and that both can be fixed with a little more focus.
“I think it’s just focusing on each pitch. Bad stuff’s going to happen in this game. We have Brian Cain who talks about that all the time, teaches us to focus on each pitch. Once we get the mechanical bugs out then it’s just going out there and performing. Once you let the ball go there’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to do all you can up to that point.”