OXFORD, Miss. – Standing 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 235 pounds, Ole Miss senior first baseman Sikes Orvis (Orlando, Fla./Freedom HS), with his broad face and glorious mustache, has become one of the more recognizable characters in all of college baseball.
You may remember when Ole Miss beat LSU on the road in a 14-inning nail-biter on the SEC Network that had Orvis and his mustache trending on Twitter, thrusting the wayward slugger into fan-favorite renown. Better yet you may have even seen him shaving his mustachio on the Ole Miss Baseball Facebook page – a video I assure you is a must see.
Orvis’s dour expression on the field, and happy-go-lucky attitude, is joined in harmony with brute strength, power and passion for the game. The 2014 First Team All-SEC talent is batting .259 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs, and 26 ferocious hits.
He’s a bruiser, a crusher, a tank; he’s also a teddy bear. Fans love him, opponents fear him. Orvis, who looks and plays like he’s a seasoned major leaguer with his shabby appearance and rough-and-tumble tactics, could have fit in well with the St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team of 1934 the Gas House Gang.
“I’m really fun-loving, kinda goofy and I do a lot of stupid things,” Orvis told College Baseball Central. “I love the game of baseball I love having fun. I try to go out there and enjoy as much as possible, and what you see is how I am normally. I am just not afraid of doing a lot of goofy stupid stuff.”
Fun-loving and goofy, but dangerous in the box, Orvis shined in last year’s NCAA Super Regional clinching victory over No. 1 Louisiana-Lafayette, going 1-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored and a walk.
He started all four games at the College World Series last year as well, and won’t be forgotten easily by Texas Christian University, as he went 3-for-5 against No. 2 TCU in an elimination game with two RBI and a double.
“For us as hitters here at Ole Miss, our hitting coach preaches a thing called ‘The Pack’ kind of like a wolf-pack,” Orvis told CBC. “There’s four categories, how it works is, each wolf in the pack has their job to help the strength of the pack. There’s runners or speed guys, ballplayers who are our guys that bunt, and do hit-and-runs, then you got bombers who are the big middle of the order guys that like to swing it, that’s my call out there, and then you got hitters, guys like J.B. Woodman who have power and speed and can do it all.”
Ole Miss (16-17, 5-7 SEC) has the second-toughest schedule in the nation per NCAA statistics. Their opponents have combined for a record of 246-142-1 (.634) on the year.
When they face No. 1 Vanderbilt this weekend for a three game series, it will mark the third No. 1 ranked team the Rebels have faced in 2015, with Ole Miss docking a 3-3 record against said No. 1 teams that comprises a series win against then-No. 1 Florida. The Rebels also hold at 36th in the nation’s RPI rankings.
Orvis and company are doing a good job and their record doesn’t necessarily reflect how good this team is. Playing in a stout SEC conference, Ole Miss has been anything but a gimmie.
Ole Miss is home to one of the most volatile playing arenas in college baseball in Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field. Named in honor of Tom Swayze, a former Ole Miss baseball player and coach, it’s capacity is 8,500 (6,100 seats), and they fill them.
“The town of Oxford Mississippi has been amazing,” Orvis said. “Being able to play in the SEC for the past four years has been something special. I have played at every school in the SEC, and you get to play in front of some of the best fans, in the best atmospheres, and you are going up against the top talent in the country. Some of the guys I played against in my first couple of years are already cracking making big league rosters. It’s fun to play in these competitive atmospheres where you just got to bring it every weekend. There is not much better fans than what we have at Swayze Field.”