Could this be the year? The challenge is a great one.
Louisiana-Lafayette has been ranked No. 1 in the country in some polls this season. The Ragin' Cajuns are 57-8 and eliminated Southeastern Conference member Mississippi State there last weekend in the Lafayette Regional.
But the Rebels have proven time and time again they are up to the challenge in their 44-18 season, marked by a 19-11 SEC regular season record and a championship in the Oxford Regional with two one-run wins against Washington.
"I've heard about them all year," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco of the Ragin' Cajuns. "How talented they are. The year they've had. Especially since about midway through the season. Great offense that does it in a lot of different ways, from power to speed to sac bunts. But they defend. They field .978 as a team. They've got three aces on the mound. They pitch well. Obviously it's a big challenge not only playing them but also playing down there."
A couple of interesting tidbits from the ball park at ULL. In the 2000 Lafayette Regional, Coach Mike Bianco's McNeese State baseball team was a participant. And on one of the other teams – East Carolina – Cliff Godwin was a player.
When his team was eliminated from the Regional, Bianco became the Ole Miss head coach that same month.
What the players are saying:
Left fielder Braxton Lee -
On last weekend: "I played for a Regional last year (in junior college). But we didn't win. It was nothing like this. That was pretty awesome being here. Being the leadoff guy has been fun. This weekend with all the fans, I was like wow this is crazy. It was pretty cool."
On this weekend: "It can be a lot of pressure. But also it's like holy cow, it's just two wins away and we could be going to Omaha. It's really cool to think about."
On the Ragin' Cajuns: "ULL's a good team. We're a good team. We saw how they played against Mississippi State. That gives you a little bit of mindset. They're like the No. 1 team in the nation, so it will be a tough weekend."
Starter Christian Trent -
On if he's been to ULL before since he is from Louisiana: "I've been there one time like two or three years ago. I don't remember much except that it's all turf."
On last weekend: "That's over with. That was great. But we don't want to stop at Regionals, obviously. It was awesome and one of the best baseball experiences I've ever had. Actually THE best. But that's not important anymore. What's important now is focusing on today, then tomorrow, then taking care of business at ULL."
On not being recruited by ULL: "I never talked to them (when he was recruited out of high school). I know nothing about them. It's cool (going there). I'll have friends and family there. But I'd rather play at home (in Oxford) with our fans."
Reliever Scott Weathersby -
On his life since Monday: "It's been good. A lot of people have been reaching out to me. It's been emotionally draining. (Tuesday) I was more emotionally drained than physically drained."
On what to do now: "We stick with our routines. Today you have to get back into your routine and focus on Saturday. The past is in the past, and we've just got to be looking to this weekend to do something special."
On his approach: "You don't want to give people free bases. It's hard enough to hit the ball as it is. I think the toughest thing in sports to do is to hit the baseball. Limit free bases and make them earn it. It's better location, not a harder pitch. (He and Greenwood) try to keep people off balance and hit our spots. We feel if we do that, our stuff's good enough."
Freshman Colby Bortles -
On not getting many opportunities this spring until the last month: "It was hard. I was working hard every day, getting my extra swings in, doing things like that. It wasn't easy but once I got my chances, I tried to make it happen."
On last weekend: "This was absolutely crazy. This is the best atmosphere in college baseball here."
On hitting the home run Monday: "I couldn't hear anything when I was running around the bases. Couldn't hear anything at all. Once I rounded first, I felt like I forgot how to run. Everybody was going crazy, I couldn't hear anything. It was unbelievable. I think it was even louder when I hit the double. It was pretty cool."
Reliever Aaron Greenwood -
On if he talked to Weathersby about what the two relievers have accomplished so far: "Scott and I usually room together on the road. We talk about what helps me and what helps him do his best. This is the first year we've been roommates. Us having big roles out of the bullpen has been kind of awesome."
On looking ahead to this Super Regional: "You have to approach it as just another game, even though it's the playoffs. You're going to be more excited. The crowd's more into it. It's just another baseball game. You've got to go out there like you're a ten-year-old kid, just enjoy the game and love every single pitch. We have this opportunity and we have to do the best we can."
On The Road
OM Spirit Top Stories
Ole Miss Determined To Beat MemphisOle Miss offensive lineman Robert Conyers and defensive lineman D.J. Jones say the Rebels are focused and ready for Saturday's matchup against Memphis.
OM SpiritYesterday at 11:43 PM
Moore Enjoys Ole Miss VisitHorsham, Pa., forward Clifton Moore has exploded onto the recruiting scene.
OM SpiritYesterday at 5:54 PM
Ole Miss 'Best Fit' for StewartUnion City, Tenn., guard Parker Stewart had plenty of options when choosing a school.
OM SpiritYesterday at 4:38 PM