Louisiana-Lafayette has 57 wins and just eight losses. The Ragin' Cajuns are playing at home.
They have one of the nation's most potent offenses. They have eight players batting better than .300.
They have 66 home runs and play in a stadium that must be conducive to such, although the dimensions seem to say otherwise. They are 330-375-400-375-330, the same as Swayze Field used to be before the fences were brought in a bit.
Their three starting pitchers are good. The worst ERA among their top seven pitchers is 3.67.
The Cajuns field .979 as a team, and that's often a stat that's overlooked. But so important to any team's success.
Their field is fake turf. So they're used to that aspect of the home ballpark.
So why do I believe Ole Miss can win?
Because it's time. And sometimes that's reason enough.
Throw in the fact that the Rebels made a pretty nice account of themselves in the 62 games so far, winning 44 of them, and, well, you've followed them all year so you know.
Some key words or phrases to describe them: toughness, veterans, leadership, first-year players who significantly contributed, resilient, balanced, strong starting pitching, dependable bullpen, sensational outfield, total team chemistry.
There are more but you get the picture. This Ole Miss Rebel team is one of the winningest ever already and has accomplished more than most teams in the past 42 years.
Ah, but there it is. Not since 1972......
The College World Series is two wins away, just like it has been five times in the past ten seasons.
Ole Miss was one of the early traditional teams in Omaha each June. In 1972, nobody in the Southeastern Conference had been more than once to the final eight of college baseball except Ole Miss. And the Rebels were making their fourth trip that season.
But none of the players on this year's team are concerned about any of that history stuff. Knowing them, their maturity, their passion, and their sportsmanship, I'm sure they appreciate the Rebels who came before them on those teams and all teams.
But this has been a team all its own. An old team in many regards, especially at places like catcher, first base, second base, third base, center field, and its starting ace and Sunday starter.
It's a mostly seasoned team that had its youngsters grow up, others step up, and with as good a group of leaders as I've seen in years. It has advanced farther than any Ole Miss team in five years. Now they get a chance to add to the history of the program, give it some recent tradition, and move on from south Louisiana to the midwest for June baseball.
Ole Miss deserves it. Mike Bianco deserves it. The fans and supporters deserve it, many of them sitting in those stands for all those four decades as a trip to Omaha never again materialized.
Oh, there were those close calls we remember all too well.
This Rebel team will have to play well in an obvious hostile environment. They've played in those before. But certainly with not as much on the line as this weekend.
The stadium isn't large – 3,755, they say. But sometimes the small venue crowds can be harder to deal with for players than a large, packed, Southeastern Conference venue.
You get even less than 4,000 screaming south Louisiana folks together, who have the best collective lungs and vocal cords of anyplace in the country as Ole Miss fans know from nearby Tiger Stadium, and you know it's going to get rowdy.
Ole Miss can win. But it must play well.
Bianco uses that phrase after a lot of games, how a team, sometimes his own, just played better and won a game.
If the Rebels can do that twice in the next three days, bottom line, Omaha will be theirs.
And I know without a doubt, after having been around them for months, that's what this team, to a man, believes will happen this weekend.
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