The Day Before

Ole Miss, the top-seeded team in the Oxford Regional, practiced at Swayze Field Wednesday afternoon. Starting Thursday, the Rebels will have to share their baseball facilities at Oxford-University Stadium with three other teams.


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Thursday is practice day and media day at the 16 NCAA baseball regionals around the country. Regulations allow for all 64 teams to practice on the field they'll be playing games on starting the next day.

For the Rebels, it's all about the comforts of home, since they are indeed at home. No players on this Ole Miss team have been a part of a regional host squad.

"It's your home field in front of your home crowd," Ole Miss head coach Bianco said for starters on why it's important to host games. "That's a great advantage, especially at our park. Logistically everything is easier this week on everybody. When we found out we were hosting, it was then just finding out who was coming here and then practicing to get ready."

Those teams announced Monday are No. 2 seed Washington (39-15-1), the Pac-12 runnerup which arrived in Oxford late Tuesday night, or actually in the early hours of Wednesday; No. 3 seed Georgia Tech (36-25), the ACC Tournament champions; and Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champions Jacksonville State (36-25), one of the strongest four seeds in the entire tournament.

Despite losing three of its last four games, Bianco said the key to the successful season for this Rebel team has been consistency.

"That's really kind of been the marquee of this team," he said Wednesday afternoon. "Everybody wants to compare (this team to other teams). That's hard to do. There've been some great teams. This team is talented in its own right."

Bianco said this team had some players emerge, as good teams always do, to become recognized for their accomplishments.

"We've got three first-team All-SEC players on this team," he said – Austin Anderson, Auston Bousfield, and Sikes Orvis who were selected by the league's coaches this week. "It's a team that walked into the season with maybe not as many marquee players but played very well. Played well in all phases, much like the 2005 team, much like the 2009 team. Very consistent."

Will Allen was named second-team All-SEC. Errol Robinson was named to the SEC All-Freshman team. Others were conference all-star worthy, beginning with two undefeated starting pitchers Chris Ellis and Christian Trent, who amazingly were not recognized by the league's coaches as accomplished enough to be first or second team.

In addition to Bousfield, any of the other three Rebel outfielders who played quite a bit this season – Braxton Lee, Will Jamison, and J.B. Woodman – could potentially have been considered for honors. Woodman might have been in consideration for the SEC All-Freshman team.

But this year's Rebel squad was all about team, and that's the way it continues to be as NCAA postseason play begins.

Bianco said there are always the what might have beens. But some of that is simply baseball.

"We lost three weekends out of 14," he said, evaluating the entire season, counting the four non-conference weekends and the 10 SEC weekends. "Even in those weekends, I don't think we particularly played that poorly. We could have and probably should have won a couple more games in those series where we lost."

He specifically mentioned games against LSU, South Carolina, and Alabama that came to mind. And there were others he didn't mention, like against Texas A&M or in the SEC tourney against Arkansas twice.

They now stand 41-18 and hosting for the first time in five years. He likes the way they've recovered from losses all season.

"Even if we had a bad game, one that we didn't particularly play well in, it seemed like we were able to turn it around the next day," Bianco said.


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