After breakout season, Guidry putting team firstBy CAMAL PETRO,
Southern Miss redshirt sophomore Matthew Guidry is ready to take the next step after having a breakout season in 2017. That doesn’t necessarily mean an improvement in his numbers, because that would be difficult.
Guidry hit .363 from the plate, which led the team, picked up 33 RBI and four homers in 45 games and 25 starts. In his 102 at-bats, he collected 37 hits, 33 runs, six doubles and a triple.
Guidry doesn’t care about the numbers from last season, or what he expects to put up this season. He’s the ultimate team player.
“I don’t really have any personal expectations,” he said. “The only personal expectation I have is to help however I can. Whether that’s taking on a role of coming off the bench and needing to pinch hit in a big situation, or honestly, whatever it needs to be. Any way I can help the team achieve our ultimate goal like winning a College World Series, it’s 100 percent OK with me.”
When asked what he wanted to work on prior to the 2018 season, he didn’t answer with a specific part of his game. Instead, it’s an intangible part of baseball.
“There were a few things as far as mechanics and stuff like that, but I’m just trying to improve myself and trying to take on more of a leadership role,” Guidry said. “We are an experienced team, and we have a lot of older guys this year, so I feel like you can never be too short on leaders.”
After graduating from Oak Grove in 2015, joining former teammates Kirk McCarty and Taylor Braley, Guidry was given the redshirt for the 2016 season. Heading into that season, he wasn’t sure if or how much he’d play as a true freshman, but he was ultimately given the redshirt.
It wasn’t ever talked about with coaches, as far as being redshirted or not, which made things tough. It wasn’t ideal for Guidry at the time, but he would go on to learn more during that season than he would expect.
“You don’t really want to know,” Guidry said of being redshirted. “You don’t really want to accept it, because sitting out a full season is something that’s never fun. Looking back on it now, there’s nothing but positive things about it. I feel like that was the main year I grew the most as a baseball player.
“Being able to sit in the dugout with all of the guys and being able to pick their brains about certain parts of the game was pretty special. Looking back on it now, it definitely helped me grow to be the player I am.”
Guidry’s first plate appearance came in the second game of the season last year, and he sent a 0-2 pitch to left field for an RBI single. He walked on four pitches two innings later.
That would set the tone for the rest of his redshirt freshman season, and he would eventually become the starter at second base as the season progressed. He credits a lot of his success to playing in the Texas Collegiate League between his true freshman to redshirt freshman seasons.
“The game speed kind of maintained the same level as far as summer ball to here,” Guidry said. “The only thing is, you have a lot more people watching and there’s a lot more riding on it. Everybody on the team, looking back on it, they wanted the best interests for me and behind me 100 percent, so that kind of made it a lot easier to adjust to the game and handle my nerves.”
Conversations about his role as a redshirt sophomore haven’t necessarily happened yet. Is he the everyday second baseman and where does he fall in the lineup are questions that are left to be answered. That doesn’t bother Guidry, though. He’s taking everything in stride.
“I’m just kind of taking it one day at a time,” he said. “That’s why they got hired, that’s why they get paid to do what they do and they do a great job of doing. I trust they’re going to tell me what I need to do in an amount of time that I need to prepare for it. I don’t really try to worry about that.”
Guidry and the Golden Eagles open up their season with a three-game series against Mississippi State starting Friday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. Games 2 and 3 are set for Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.