Former St. Stanislaus ace finding his fastball at Ole Miss

Pitcher Greer Holston has known plenty of success during his young baseball career.

As a junior, he helped lead St. Stanislaus to the Class 4A state championship in 2015, finishing with a 9-1 record and 0.85 ERA and hitting .450.

Holston opted to transfer to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, for his senior year. Against some of the nation’s toughest competition, Holston posted a 6-2 record with a 1.02 ERA.

Now the former Rockachaw is seeing what he’s made of against SEC competition as a member of the Ole Miss freshman class during fall ball scrimmages.

Reports out of Oxford: So far, so good.

Heading into the annual Pizza Bowl intrasquad best-of-three, which started Wednesday, the right-hander boasts a 3.60 ERA with six strikeouts and one walk in 15 innings.

“The fall has been going great,” Holston said Monday. “It’s a really big learning experience. There’s great competition. It’s definitely a different level.”

During his prep career, Holston saw his velocity creep upwards of 88 to 91 mph. At Ole Miss, Holston said he’s now throwing 90 to 93 mph and is developing a better slider that’s “harder, tighter and more of a swing and miss” pitch.

He said the mental side of the game in college has been “way bigger” than he initially expected.

“You have to be a really big competitor,” he said. “You have to want the ball and want to win. School-wise, IMG was great with preparing me and the same with Stanislaus.

“Baseball-wise, both did great jobs but the biggest thing I need to accomplish that I haven’t figured out yet is being the competitor I need to be.”

Baseball America recently ranked the Rebels’ newcomers as the top signing class in the nation. With that ranking, Greer said, comes big expectations that are already being felt.

“They recruited all of us to do well,” Holston said. “They expect that.”

Getting chills

Holston grew up an Ole Miss fan, so committing to the Rebels early on in high school was a bit of a dream come true. Stepping onto the mound at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field took his excitement to another level.

“It was unreal,” he said of his first time taking the mound. “It was one of those moments you have to take a deep breath and slow down your heart rate. Even if there’s only 100 people in the stands, you get chills.

“You start to envision yourself in front of 10,000-13,000 people.”

Welcome to the SEC

As well as Holston has played early on during intrasquads, the former Rockachaw has already had a welcome to the SEC moment — interestingly enough against a fellow freshman.

“My third start, I gave up a bomb to Grae Kessinger,” Holston said. “I had him in an 0-2 count and threw a fastball inside. I will never do that again. He took me left-center gap over the 365-foot marker.

“You throw it and think, 'yeah, that's a good pitch.' But when you see the ball float over the wall you know you have to step up your game.”

The Rebels won’t know their roles until the spring. Holston has been vying for starting time in the fall but says he’ll be happy with any role once the spring rolls around.

“I just want to establish myself as a team helper,” he said. “I want to play my role for the team and do whatever I can to help us win.”

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs