Tourney Time

The Ole Miss baseball team boards a bus today for Hoover, Ala., as champions of the Southeastern Conference Western Division and the No. 2 seed behind Florida in this week's SEC Tournament. The Gators are the overall champions.

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Auston Bousfield, junior center fielder and Ferriss Award winner

The Rebels play the second game on Wednesday, likely around 1 p.m., against the winner of today's game between Texas A&M and Arkansas.

Ole Miss is 40-16 overall and finished 19-11 in the SEC. Considered almost a virtual lock to host a NCAA Regional beginning May 30, the Rebels set their sights on winning as many games in Hoover as they can, winning the SEC Tournament, and gaining one of the top eight national seeds, which some feel they likely are not at this point.

"It's hard to beat us"

Senior Austin Anderson, one of the team's captains along with senior Will Allen, said this team takes care of business for a number of reasons.

"I think there is mental toughness and confidence," said the four-year starter in the Rebel infield. "The freshmen have had a big impact. Even as an older guy, when you see freshmen play with that confidence, we feed off that. It's hard to beat us."

"I think I progressed a lot over the year"

Evan Anderson is one of those freshmen who contributed. The left-handed pitcher could draw a start Wednesday, although as of this morning that had not been decided.

Anderson is pitching his best recently, it appears.

"At the start, I was definitely shaky. I was having some arm issues. Josh Porter (team trainer) helped me work through it and get better. Coach (Carl) Lafferty and Coach (Mike) Bianco helped me with my mechanics. I think I progressed a lot over the year."

If he does get the start for the Rebels in game one, Anderson said he will try to make it seem just like any other start he's had.

"When I look at a (potential) start in the SEC Tournament, I just look at it as an everyday start," the Oklahoma native said. "Coach (Bianco) told me not to make it more than it is (if it happens). That's what I'm going to go out there and do."

"It would be really cool to win the SEC"

Will Allen, the other co-captain with Austin Anderson, said the Rebels need to focus on winning one game at a time, and that he knows they certainly might need some more victories to make the nation's top eight.

Will Allen
Bruce Newman

"It definitely wouldn't hurt," he said. "As long as we're playing baseball, we're going to do the best we can. If we play well and make a run in the tournament, I think that definitely would help. But it's kind of up in the air, and we'll see."

Allen said the team knows they've attained some of their goals, and they'll need to win more games to attain others.

"We've been focused on that the whole year," he said of goals including hosting Regionals and Super Regionals. "But we have to take it game by game and be focused on the task at hand. It would be really cool to win the SEC (Tournament) championship."

Looking back isn't necessarily the best thing to do at this point. But the most recent game, a loss to Texas A&M last Saturday as the Rebels led late, still stings.

"It was definitely tough," he said. "We're a good team, and to let one slip away like that was rough to see. It's baseball and it happens now and then."

"I've enjoyed every minute of it

Scott Weathersby paid his dues and stayed the course to be able to be a heavy contributor to Ole Miss baseball. And now he is.

Last Friday night he was on the mound at game's end when Ole Miss beat the Aggies to claim the SEC West crown.

"At the start of the year, I was at the back of the bullpen," the Oak Grove High School product said. "I kind of worked my way up as the year went on. I had some good outings, had some bad outings. I was satisfied with my performance Friday (at Texas A&M), but I was even more proud of our team and winning the SEC West. Starting back in the fall and all the hard work we put in. It was just great to enjoy that moment with my team."

Weathersby has waited much of his career to be able to contribute as he is now. He's excited to be able to help in key situations.

"It has," he said of the long road to get to this point. "Ever since I was a little kid, my dad used to bring me to baseball games here. I knew this was where I wanted to be. Even when I redshirted, and even the year after that when I didn't play, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I was just trying to follow the Lord's plan for my life. I really felt like he was leading me to stay here. So I decided to stay, and it's really come to fruition. I've enjoyed every minute of it."

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