CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: PARRIS

HED:Parrish Alford: Change of address paying off for Hutchinson, Rebels

Burney Hutchinson thought that if he went north, it would keep his game from going south.

So far he's been correct.

The 1997 Tupelo High graduate signed with Mississippi State but didn't see the playing time he'd hoped for.

So he utilized college baseball's free pass for the discontented: the NCAA's rule which allows baseball players to transfer once without sitting out a season.

Hutchinson was redshirted at State in 1998 and went through fall practice there this season.

Now he's playing and producing as a redshirt freshman at Ole Miss.

"I just went into fall with the attitude that I was going to play to the best of my ability, and if things didn't work out, I was going to make the decision to move," Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has prospered at his new address, particularly of late.

He drew two starts in the Auburn series, and, after an 0-for-3 night Friday, was 5-for-6 for the remainder of the weekend. He was 4-for-5 with two RBIs in Saturday's 9-8 loss and had a run-scoring double in his only at-bat in Sunday's 13-2 Ole Miss win.

Hutchinson started in right field Friday, in left field Saturday and came off the bench as the designated hitter Sunday.

"It wasn't so much his ability, but just getting to know the guys that was his adjustment," Ole Miss coach Pat Harrison said. "When a guy comes in new, sometimes he presses a bit. Now there's a trust that's built, and he's such a neat kid that it didn't take long."

Hutchinson has played in only 27 games, but his .425 average leads the team.

The bulk of his playing time has come recently. In his last 14 games, Hutchinson is 15-for-26 with two home runs, 12 RBIs, five doubles and 12 runs scored.

Ole Miss coaches have changed "minor things" with regard to his stance, he said.

"For the last month or so I've been able to relax and just play ball. I've come in in several pinch-hitting situations and been able to produce, and that's given me the opportunity to start in some other games," Hutchinson said.

Change in plans

Arkansas kept some late in hours in a 5-4 14-inning loss at Wichita State Tuesday.

In the process, the Razorbacks used five pitchers, including regular Friday starter David Walling.

The junior right-hander from Lakeside, Calif., threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing two hits and no runs.

Now Arkansas coach Norm DeBriyn has shuffled his regular weekend rotation for the Mississippi State series, moving Walling (6-2. 3.83 ERA) to the Sunday spot.

That means the Bulldogs will need continued improvement from Sunday starter Scott Polk (5-1, 3.98), who has tried to pitch his way through back problems. Polk allowed just a run and two hits in four innings of work against LSU but walked five. State eventually lost 3-2.

Around the SEC

Last week Florida shortstop Mark Ellis became the eighth player in SEC history to record 300 or more hits in a career. ... Although Arkansas was swept at Alabama, the Razorbacks outhit the Crimson Tide, 34-30 but left 29 runners on base, including 25

the final two games. ...

When LSU won twice at State last weekend, it became the first SEC team this season to win a series at a Western Division opponent's home field. ... MSU's Hank Thoms has recorded 92 strikeouts and could be come the school's 10th pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts in a season. ...

Thoms' 1.91 ERA is second to Florida's Ben Grezlovski at 1.72. Grezlovski is 8-5. Thoms is 7-2.

Parrish Alford covers college baseball for the Daily Journal.

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