Lone Star Return

Alex Yarbrough talked a lot about "routine" Monday after Ole Miss found out it was going to College Station, Texas, for NCAA Regional play.

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Playing TCU, the second seed, has become almost routine for Ole Miss. The Rebels opened the season with the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth in February. Now they play them again Friday at 12:35 p.m. to open the College Station Regional.

"We started off the season with them, and now we get to play them in the postseason," said the Rebels' second baseman and leading hitter at .389 after batting over .400 most of the season. "We're excited about that."

Ole Miss and TCU have more in common than that. And they'll see each other in the future. They split this year's two games with a third rained out.

This year's series was the third recently between the two programs. In 2013 TCU opens the season in Oxford.

The Rebels, 35-24 this season, are excited to still be playing baseball. They get a chance to right some regular season and SEC Tournament wrongs with another restart Friday.

Texas Christian, meanwhile, is 36-19 and coming off a 1-2 performance in the WAC Tournament. The host Texas A&M Aggies (42-16) are the Regional's top seed and will face the No. 4 seed Dayton (31-28) on Friday at 6:35 p.m.

Yarbrough said the Rebels felt like they were in the tournament field, but it was good to see their name appear on the screen Monday morning.

"I think we were all pretty confident that we were in," said the Allen, Texas, native, who made only two errors all season. "It was good to get that last win against Arkansas (on day two) at the SEC Tournament. But we really didn't have much doubt in our minds. They were talking on the (selection) show that we were one of the last five in, but we felt confident the whole time we were going to get in. It was good to see our name flash up on the screen."

The Rebels didn't get in last year. It was the first time since 2002 that they hadn't made the field.

Alex Yarbrough
Bruce Newman

This year became a closer call the last two weeks than it appeared it was going to be just a month ago. Except for a three-game sweep of Tennessee in Oxford, the Rebels had lost more than they'd won since losing two of three games at Mississippi State in late April.

The last weekend of the season in 2011, Ole Miss wasn't able to win enough games at Arkansas to advance to the SEC Tournament and into the NCAA Tournament field. With an expanded SEC Tournament field in 2012 from eight to ten teams, the Rebels, swept the last weekend of the regular season at Vanderbilt, were in at No. 9 last week.

That probably helped make sure they were in the NCAA Tournament field, along with a solid RPI in the 20s and a strong non-conference schedule.

"Obviously last year we didn't have the season we wanted to," Yarbrough said, "and this year we still haven't played our best baseball. We had a better year results-wise this year. It was really good to see that (name on the screen) and to get to go play at a place like College Station. It will be a great atmosphere, and we're really excited for it."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, taking his tenth UM team to the NCAA Tournament in 12 seasons, said he was confident the Rebels were in. But it's always a relief when the official word comes down and the school name pops up on the screen.

"I thought we were in," Bianco said. "You talk about the resume' and you talk about the whole year, the RPI, it's almost a shame there are some anxious moments. As far as record and strength of schedule and those type things, you certainly have to like our resume.'"

So, ultimately, did the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.

Quick Hitters

Bianco on R.J. Hively, who had some arm problems at the SEC tourney - "Good. He will throw a little bit off the mound (Tuesday). He's been giving me percentages along the way. He told me (Sunday) I think we're up to 97 point something, so I think we're going to be fine."

Bianco on Austin Anderson, who had finger surgery two weeks ago and hasn't played since prior to the Vanderbilt series - "He won't be available. He gets the stitches out today (Tuesday). I think it will be another week, so he won't be available (this weekend)."

Bianco on Blake Newalu, who has been battling shin splints for more than a month but still playing most games - "Day to day. He practiced on Saturday but didn't practice (Sunday) night. He hit but didn't take ground balls or move around. It's been slow. He really needs probably two or three weeks off of not doing anything. Unfortunately we don't have that for him."

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