May 20, 2009
Danny P Smith -
University of Mississippi junior outfielder Jordan Henry has found a way to steal more bases and Southeastern Conference honors this season.
After being named to the All-SEC second-team and earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 2007 and making the SEC All-Tournament team in 2008, the coaches Tuesday voted Henry a first-team All-SEC performer.
Henry leads the SEC in walks (49) and with a school-record 33 stolen bases, which has caught the eye of coaches who''ve had to try and slow him down.
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin compares Henry to New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon because they bring similar qualities to the game.
"He makes you nervous," Corbin said. "There are guys in the league who do that with power or baserunning. Henry has a way of putting the ball in play and using his speed."
Henry won''t scare opponents with power (zero home runs and only 27 RBIs), but he has the second-best batting average on the team (.342).
Ole Miss (40-15) opens SEC tournament play at 1:30 p.m. today in Hoover, Ala., against Georgia. Bulldogs coach David Perno knows his team will have to defend Henry''s offensive skills.
"He''s pretty special and does so many things for them," Perno said. "He sees pitches, stays within himself, and grinds out good at-bat after good at-bat. He sets the tempo for the rest of their lineup."
Henry knows it is his job to get on base so teammates can drive him home. His strategy is to cause havoc on the basepaths and to get in the opposing pitcher''s head any way he can.
"I''ve gotten deeper in counts and it has worked out for me," Henry said. "The guys have done a great job of getting hits and getting RBIs, and that has been a key for us.
"The key is to get a momentum change and to get on base. I try to steal bases and get runners in scoring position to help the guys behind me get better pitches to hit and hit home runs like they do."
Ole Miss has had success with players like Henry. Jordan''s older brother, Justin, was a second baseman from 2005-07.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco likes what Jordan Henry (.474 on-base percentage) gives his team.
"He''s done terrific from the beginning of the season of just setting the tempo," Bianco said. "He really sets the table for the rest of the guys."
The ability to reach base and to score runs will be key if the Rebels want to make a tournament run.