Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin'....

Auburn was eliminated from the SEC Tournament Thursday afternoon. The Ole Miss baseball team was actually practicing at the time. But you can bet they were keeping up.

Georgia sent Auburn packing for the season since its 29-29 record won't qualify for NCAA Tournament play next week. Teams have to be above .500 on selection Monday to have any chance to be chosen.

Now the "watch" turns toward Georgia. The Bulldogs, who lost 10-0 to Vanderbilt Wednesday, must win a Friday game and a Saturday game to secure a spot in the selection process. Right now, Georgia is 29-29. Only getting to 31 wins will the Bulldogs be above .500 on Monday.

The Rebels, 30-25, went about practice Thursday as if their name will be called Monday. Of course, eliminating Auburn and possibly Georgia does not mean Ole Miss getting in is a for-sure thing. It simply means two more spots are open for the NCAA baseball committee of 10 members to look at other teams than the Tigers and the Bulldogs.

Like Ole Miss, sitting home this week for failing to qualify for Hoover, and LSU, with the same problem as the Rebels. The Tigers, at 36-20 and watching the tourney from Baton Rouge, have an RPI in the low 20s and in one case at No. 20.

"I haven't actually watched any games," said senior captain Matt Smith prior to Thursday's practice. "I'm excited, kinda nervous. I want to be in postseason. I want to play. I haven't been in this situation since I've been here. I'm trying to be hopeful, and hopefully we get in."

Nobody associated with Ole Miss baseball has been in this situation since 2002. That was the last year the Rebels failed to reach the SEC Tournament. That season, nearly a decade and a lot of changes ago, the Rebels won 37 regular season games and 14 conference games but didn't qualify for Hoover. The NCAA didn't pick them either.

Matt Smith
Bruce Newman
This year, with an RPI of 40, the Rebels are a bubble team that needs help if it wants to make it into the field of 64. That's help from other teams still playing all across the country, and help from the NCAA committee.

"That's the hard part," said Smith, knowing that it's now all out of the Rebels' hands and into someone else's. "That's the one thing that keeps the edge on."

Sophomore All-SEC second baseman Alex Yarbrough said it's all about remaining positive now.

"I think we just stay focused by getting out here and doing what we're doing now," he said. "Have a good practice, four innings of good intrasquad, just stay in game shape and that's the best thing we can do at a time like this."

Yarbrough said he'd been paying attention to the SEC Tournament so far.

"We had an off day (Wednesday), and I watched a good bit of it," he said. "We know Auburn plays Georgia today, and that can be an epic game for our chances. We're just focusing on what we have to do and try to be ready if we do get to a Regional."

Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said all the Rebels can do now is watch and wait and continue to prepare.

"We are where we are," said the 11th-year head coach of the Rebels. "It's up to 10 (committee) guys. There's arguments I'm sure for both, in and out. But, as I've said to several people, we could have won one of those two games (they lost) at Arkansas with a play here or a call or whatever. If we win one of those games, we're in (the SEC Tournament) and the NCAA Tournament."

Bianco said his team should be in a field of 64. But he understands there are the automatic qualifiers and the at-large bids.

"Are we one of the best 64 teams in the country? No doubt about it," he said, meaning affirmatively.

Smith said Monday can't get here soon enough. It's the waiting that's the hardest part.

"I don't know," he said if the Rebels will be in the field. "I really don't know."

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