The Next Chapter

Getting back into the hosting business was a long time coming for a program that had gotten so used to it. That's where Ole Miss was when the last decade closed.

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Virginia came in for a Super Regional and left town headed for Omaha in June, 2009. Ole Miss wandered around a bit the next few seasons.

There was, ironically, a trip to Virginia's Regional the next season, which the Rebels didn't get out of and that season ended in Charlottesville. Then came 2011 and the bottom for the program with no postseason at all and only 13 Southeastern Conference wins.

Two road Regionals later as the Rebels added more talent and depth, with 14 and 15 conference wins respectively, and now here the program is hosting again. With 19 SEC wins, second place overall in the league and a solo SEC West crown, now the Rebels can play in the friendly confines of Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field in the postseason again.

"Proud of the team," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We've had a great year, a consistent year, through 14 weeks. It's one the kids deserve and the fans deserve. It's always great to be home this time of year."

The field, as is always the case, is somewhat of a mystery. There are plenty of stats and info on the internet. But when you haven't played teams that are coming in and they aren't in your conference, obviously, then there is some homework to be done.

"I don't know anything much about them yet," Bianco said Monday afternoon. "Washington was the Pac-12 runnerup and had a great year. I saw a little bit of the Georgia Tech game (Sunday), winning the ACC championship, obviously a very hot team. The one that was a little surprising, because we just assumed Jackson State would come here, was Jacksonville State. We checked them out on the internet and saw their stats and that they won 36 games and are playing well. Obviously a very good Regional; lot of good teams."

Playing at home is more than playing games on your home field before supportive fans. There's so much a program doesn't have to do when it plays a Regional at its home park.

Christian Trent (left), Will Jamison, and teammates watch selection show
Bruce Newman

"There are a lot of different factors than the actual games," Bianco said. "There's always the talk of 70-plus percent chance of moving on if you play at home, things like that. You don't have to worry about flights somewhere. The NCAA does the flights for you, and you're kind of at their mercy. And the other thing is the parents. There are 27 kids whose parents want to go and are trying to find flights. The parents know their way around Oxford and how to get here. It's more than just the actual field you play on.

"On the road you're in somebody else's stadium. Logistically the week of the tournament it's just so much easier. We're fortunate here that we've hosted so much and that the administration does it so well. Titus Queen is the tournament director this year. They're prepared and ready to go. All we have to do is practice and get ready to play baseball."

All teams will have scheduled practice times Thursday on Swayze Field. There will be media opportunities for all four teams that day as well.

This year marks the sixth NCAA Regional for Ole Miss to host, beginning with the first one in 2004. To date, the Rebels have also hosted three Super Regionals – 2005, 2006, and 2009.

Washington was a part of the 2004 NCAA Oxford Regional, and the Huskies were the team that eliminated Ole Miss. Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State have not been a part of postseason in Oxford prior to this week.

No. 2 seed Washington and No. 3 seed Georgia Tech play at 3 p.m. Friday.

No. 1 seed Ole Miss and No. 4 seed Jacksonville State play at 7 p.m. Friday.

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