COLUMBIA — Outfielder Blake Brown wanted to be the first Missouri freshman to hit a home run this season, but he’s fine with being the third.
“We always talk about that,” Brown said. “Just the freshman joking around. It was a good way to get it off, finally.”
It was a solid home run, too. Brown pulled it hard on a line and the ball landed well over the wall in left-center field during the Tigers' half of the second inning
Brown said the home run gets the monkey off his back, and boosts his confidence before Big 12 Conference play starts on Friday.
“It raises it quite a bit,” Brown said. “Just knowing that I finally pulled a ball with some power was good to do. I’ve been working on that because I’ve been a little late with the pitching, still adjusting to college. It gives me a lot of confidence going into conference because now I know I can handle this pitching.”
Brown has hit second in the Tigers’ lineup for most of the season. In a 9-0 victory against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday at Taylor Stadium, Brown batted sixth. He said he feels more comfortable hitting sixth for Missouri (11-6).
“It was a little different,” Brown said. “I like being a little lower in the lineup, a little bit less pressure, a little stress off your shoulders. I don’t really care where I bat. I just like to play.”
Coach Tim Jamieson likes to have high on-base percentage guys at the top of the lineup, which is why Brown has batted mostly in the second spot. Jamieson said he is not surprised that Brown produced batting lower.
“I think that’s really where he belongs,” Jamieson said. “I think he can be more comfortable down there, and doesn’t have to think as much … As a freshman, we rely more on your natural ability and try to figure out what you’re supposed to do in every at-bat.”
The Tigers are a very young team. Not including redshirt players, Missouri has 10 freshmen.
Jamieson said he thinks the freshmen are ready, but he needs his older players to make it easier for them.
After Brown's blast, first baseman Aaron Senne hit a wind-assisted home run to right-center field later in the inning. Senne, a senior, said he was just showing the freshman how it was done.
“Hit it a little farther, yeah,” Senne said with a laugh. “It was cool to see him get his first home run too. We’ve got a lot of different guys swinging it.”
Senne, one of just two Missouri seniors, remembers his days as a freshman and how he looked up to the seniors on the team. He knows he must be a role model for the younger players on and off the field, especially with conference play about to start.
“It’s tough to be (ready) as a freshman,” Senne said. “I don’t think they’ll have a tough time catching up. It’ll be exciting for them I’m sure.”
Brown said he thinks he and the other freshmen will continue to produce.
“They’ve warned us,” Brown said. “I’ve heard it’s pretty rowdy. We’re ready for it, though.”
Missouri has won four games in a row and ends its series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Taylor Stadium in its final game before conference play begins.