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OMAHA, Neb. - The sounds were familiar. The ping of bat meeting ball, of grounders turned into outs with the pop of a first baseman's mitt. Jordan Henry could only watch.

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Batting practice is no longer a daily practice for the former Ole Miss outfielder. Baseball is still his life, sure, but as a graduate assistant coach for the Rebels rather than the former SEC Freshman of the Year who finished his Ole Miss career with a .341 batting average, 64 steals, 174 runs scored and 237 hits.

His arms were crossed as he stood on the finely cut natural grass of TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., site of the College World Series. He was taking it all in. Ole Miss is in the College World Series for the first time since 1972, and while he wasn't able to get here as a player, the experience is no less thrilling for him.

"It's great. I'm just excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the team this year, helping out with them and all," he said. "I'm so proud of them for getting this far and getting over that hump. It's exciting to be able to be a part and experience it myself."

"I'm so proud of them for getting this far and getting over that hump."

Henry was drafted in the seventh round of the MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians in 2009, the same year Ole Miss was eliminated by its upcoming CWS opponent, Virginia, at home. He spent five seasons in the organization before returning to Ole Miss.

He said he fully understands the significance of Ole Miss making it to the grandest stage in college baseball. He would know, having come so close. He's happy most of all for his head coach, Mike Bianco.

"If anyone deserves it, it's him," he said. "I know he's been so close so many times. He's been so many times as a player and as an assistant. Seeing him go for the first time as a head coach is really special. I was real excited for him.

"Seeing everything that's going on just the first few days that we've been here, it's a great experience, obviously. I've played with guys who have played here in pro ball and they always tell me if you can ever go, it's definitely an experience you won't forget."

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Ole Miss and Virginia have faced off six times in the history of the two programs, with the Rebels trailing 2-4 in the all-time series.

Henry has enjoyed the last few days as much as anyone. But in the end, Ole Miss is here to play baseball, which Henry said the coaching staff has preached to the team all week.

"That's something we discuss with them all the time, just to try and stay in the moment," Henry said. "Enjoy everything, but when game time comes, it's just like every other game we've played. They're definitely prepared for that; we play in a great atmosphere at home all the time. Of course, this is really cool and everything, but they're prepared for that and staying in the moment."

Still, this is Omaha.

"The Ole Miss community as a whole, it's definitely huge for them just being able to get here," Henry said. "We've been so close so many years. I know the fan base and everybody is real excited and I know a lot of friends and ex-players are, too, that I've talked to. Everybody as a whole, it's great for them to experience this as well."

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