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Friday, March 11, 2011The last time Richie Goodenow played a baseball game in Oxford, Miss., he was wearing black-and-gold instead of purple-and-gold.
The former Vanderbilt Commodore, who chose to close out his college career at Lipscomb this season, doesn’t really think there is that much of a difference. Goodenow and the rest of the Bisons are playing a three-game series against the Ole Miss Rebels at University Stadium starting Friday night at 6:30. The Saturday and Sunday games will start at 1:30 p.m. This will be the first time the two teams have met on the baseball field.
“It might have a different feel to it for me,” Goodenow said. “It is a different team, but once we get down there it will be the same.”
Some players have talked with Goodenow about what to expect from Ole Miss.
“We are playing against ourselves, not the other team,” Goodenow said. “We have to control what we can control.
“It is going to be a great atmosphere. The fans down there love baseball. They could draw 6,000 to 7,000 based on the weather. That’s a lot more fun than playing in front of 10. We have to go down there and embrace the atmosphere.”
The Bisons enter the game with a 7-6 record after beating Morehead State 12-2 Wednesday night. Ole Miss, from the Southeastern Conference, is 10-4 after losing 7-3 to Western Kentucky Wednesday night.
Goodenow, 0-2 with a 2.45 earned run average, will start for the Bisons Friday night. Goodenow, a left-hander, will be facing Ole Miss left-hander Matt Crouse.
Forehand views Goodenow as a leader who can help take the edge off of the series for the Bisons.
“It would be different if Richie was just a position player, but he is going to pitch in the first game,” Forehand said. “He will have already been there and done that.
"Hopefully, Richie starting off will give everyone a sense of ease. We are trying to not make this series any more than it really is other than being an opportunity to play a team from arguably the best baseball conference in the country.”
Goodenow leads the Bisons’ staff in innings pitched with 22. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 24. He has given up 16 hits and seven runs, six earned. He threw a complete game, the only one for the Bisons this season, in a 1-0 loss to Purdue March 4.
“Richie has pitched some good games,” Forehand said. “He came out of one game and lost 3-2 and lost one game 1-0. If he can give us three-run games and take us deep into the game I have to be satisfied with that. Then it is our job to put runs on the scoreboard.
“He is getting better every time out. His experience is going to pay off for us pretty soon.”
With one exception he Goodenow was used as a reliever during his time at Vanderbilt. He thinks the approach to the game he developed as a reliever makes him better as he makes the transition to a regular starting role.
“I’m going out there trying to keep the team in a situation where we can win,” Goodenow said. “That has not happened yet for me on Friday night but it is coming. I just need to stay focused and keep working hard.
“It’s easier for me to stay focused as a starter since I was a reliever. As a reliever you might come in and face one hitter so you have to focus on every pitch. As a starter I am less apt to take a hitter off or lose focus.”
Goodenow has also been productive at the plate. He leads the Bisons in both multi-hit games (six) and multi-RBI games (three). He leads the team in hitting with a .429 average, including two home runs and 11 runs batted in. He also is tops on the team in slugging percentage (.600) and on base percentage (.500).
“Richie is a seasoned, experienced player,” Forehand said. “We counted on him being a hitter from the beginning. I’m just glad he is enjoying himself.
“His role has expanded on our team. He feels more of an urgency in not just being a guy who is going to pitch an inning every second or third game. He is going to have the ball in his hand every game for us whether he is on the mound or at the plate.”
Goodenow has embraced his expanded role, He rates this season so far as the most fun he has had playing baseball. But he also knows that the Bisons haven’t been given much of a chance in preseason polls to qualify for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament and he wants to do everything he can to elevate the team.
“There is definitely more of a sense of urgency for me since this is my last year of college baseball,” Goodenow said. “I want to do my best for the team.
“There is also a sense of urgency from everybody on the team. We want to get in the tournament, win the conference championship and get into a regional somewhere.”
Following Goodenow in the rotation this weekend will be right-hander Connor Sinclair (1-1, 1.50 ERA) on Saturday and right-hander Dannie Strable (2-1, 4.86 ERA) on Sunday.
“I want to always be competitive,” Forehand said. “We scheduled this series two years ago. When you talk about atmosphere at a baseball game Ole Miss would be in the top five in the country.
“That is the kind of atmosphere we will be dealing with in the conference tournament and anything past that. This venue will be one we are going to grow from no matter what the outcome.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.