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June 19, 2012Chase Nyman isn't big on days off.
In what are his final days of summer freedom before reporting to Ole Miss this weekend, Nyman didn't head to the beach or lounge around hometown Pascagoula, Miss. Instead, after finishing up orientation and officially becoming an Ole Miss student, the infielder went to Olive Branch and has been working on his game daily.
Pascagoula native Neil Frederic just completed his first year as Center Hill's head coach, and Nyman is staying with Frederic in Olive Branch to make the most of his time before heading to Oxford. Frederic has helped with Nyman's game for a long time, and Nyman credits Frederic with how far his game has come.
"He's a guy that has surely helped me get to where I am today," Nyman said. "All I know is playing baseball, so I came up here and will be here until I go to Oxford. We go to the field and some of his players come out and we work. One day we'll hit and the next we'll work on defense. It's been great."
Nyman will be in contention for the vacant second base spot left by Alex Yarbrough. The 6-foot, 190-pound left-handed hitter was rated the No. 126 overall prospect and No. 8 second baseman nationally by Perfect Game for the 2012 class. His honors include the Mississippi 5A Player of the Year, All Southeast Region First Team and Rawlings Third Team All-America.
"I don't want to put my expectations too high immediately at Ole Miss," Nyman said. "My goal is to get comfortable and work my way into the lineup."
Nyman recently led Pascagoula to the 5A state title, beating Long Beach in the south half finals and Hernando in the state championship. In the decisive win over Long Beach, shortstop Tracy Hadley, who was missing his grandmother's funeral for the game, hit his first career home run for a walkoff win.
Nyman was electric in the playoffs, going 9-for-12 with five extra-base hits during the championship series. For the season, he hit .402 with 16 doubles, three triples and five home runs. The batting average rose nearly 100 points during the playoffs, as Nyman struggled early in the season. Without much protection in the order, opposing pitchers stayed away from him.
"Early I came out and had a lot of pressure on me and people expecting things, and it wasn't going well," Nyman said. "There wasn't anyone behind me, but I moved to leadoff and started coming around. Then, something clicked. I was taking a lot of the same swings, but the ball was coming off the bat different."
Nyman wasn't selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, but it wasn't because of a lack of interest from professional teams. The Astros called Nyman in the sixth round and asked what it would take to sign him. He stuck to his plan.
"I wouldn't come off a million dollars," Nyman said. "I told them they had to bring me away from Ole Miss, and they kind of gave up."
Nyman is rooming with right-handed pitcher Jacob Waguespack. The two played for Marucci Elite the past two summers and have grown closer since Waguespack committed to the Rebels.
Nyman is a 6.7 runner in the 60-yard dash and Perfect Game rates him a 10.0 on its 1-to-10 scale.
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