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The Los Angeles Dodgers drafted Christian Trent in the 29th round last month. That’s not something that’s been on the left-handed pitcher’s mind much.

Throughout the process, he’s said he is coming back to pitch for Ole Miss in 2015. He’s still saying that, taking a summer school class, and working out to get ready for the new school year which begins next month.

He knew getting drafted was a possibility heading into this year, his third in college. He’d spent a redshirt year at LSU and a year in junior college at Delgado in New Orleans.

“I guess it was somewhere about halfway during the SEC season, I knew I just wasn’t going to be ready to leave,” said Trent, who will be a junior in classification this coming year. “I knew I’d have another year to pitch (here) and get better. Unless (the Dodgers) had paid me some ungodly number and it would have been dumb for me to not leave, then I wasn’t going to go.

“So I knew going into the draft that I liked it here, I liked what the coaches had done for me here to get better, and it’s been a crazy experience here – pro ball isn’t like this – I just wasn’t ready to leave. I made my decision even before I had to make a decision that I wasn’t going to leave.”

To say Trent is dedicated to the Ole Miss baseball program is an understatement. Some of his teammates have departed. Of the ones on the team in 2014 that were drafted, all of them signed pro contracts except him. Obviously some were seniors, but all the juniors or third-year guys drafted signed.

Didn’t matter to Trent. He’s back for more.

“Once we got to the Super Regional and then to Omaha, there was no way I could leave,” he said.

Trent, the weekend’s second-game starter in 2014, will be one of the team’s leaders in more ways than one in 2015. Yes, he is the odds-on favorite to become that ace of the staff, that Friday night guy.

But he’s taking nothing for granted. He’s working to make sure he’s in a position to be that guy.

“I feel like the expectations for what the coaches want me to do is pitch on Friday nights,” he said. “Obviously it’s not given. But how everything went last year and with hard work this year, I personally expect myself to be on Friday nights, and I’m sure Coach (Mike Bianco) expects that from me, too. I don’t want to let him down or anyone else down. That’s when I want to go, on Fridays.”

Trent said this past season he was finally where he’d hoped to be as far as the school, the program, the position on the staff – basically everything all rolled up into one. And then to get a start in Omaha in the College World Series in the team's win over Texas Tech was the icing. He went eight innings that day in the Rebels' 2-1 victory against the Red Raiders.

“I’d just say routine,” he said of what helped make him the pitcher he was this past season. “I was at LSU (as a freshman) but obviously I didn’t pitch there. And then junior college after that, so I really wasn’t exposed to the SEC. I knew how good the players were (at LSU), but I really didn’t understand the competition level, things like that.

“It was never a question for me if I could compete. And once I got a couple SEC starts, once I pitched that first SEC weekend at South Carolina, I was like ‘OK, I can hang with these guys.’ So it was more of a mindset.”

And even when some things got a little rocky, his defense and his offense were there to back him up. After all, he finished the season 9-0, with a team-best ERA of 2.05, with 17 starts, and 110 innings, which was second behind Chris Ellis’ 116.1 innings.

“Even like against Arkansas when I gave up four runs in the first, I knew that we were good enough to win that game. It was a comfort level to know that I had the team behind me that could help that much. I was up there with complete confidence, and that included Coach Bianco calling pitches. We were on an unspoken same page. We pulled in the same direction. ”

The Rebels won that Saturday game against the Razorbacks 7-4.

One of the real “moments” of many for Trent this season was the second game at Louisiana-Lafayette in the Super Regional - in his home state, in front of an opposing crowd that was ready to lift its team to Omaha, and in a season-ending game for Ole Miss had the Rebels lost.

Trent, as those around the program will tell you, is as focused as any pitcher or player you could ever find on those days he’s starting. That’s the way it was for him at UL that day, headphones on, walking alone in the ballpark, preparing as he does every time he pitches.

“I like to have fun, but I’m in a completely different mindset on those days,” he said. “From the minute I wake up that morning, I start focusing on what I’m doing – eating right at the team meal, drinking enough water, it’s a completely different mindset. I don’t go into games nervous.

“At UL with the success we had already, I had faith in this team. I knew we were that good and we’d done it all year. We’d been through so much.”

And this program had as well. The Rebels, under Bianco, had won the first game of a Super Regional at home three times and not made it to the College World Series. The Rebels’ head coach reminded this year’s team of just that point.

“Three times he said they’d won that first game, and so losing the first game (this year) meant absolutely nothing,” Trent said. “Obviously we were calm and knew we could go out there and win two games. I wasn’t worried.”

Trent wants to be able to go a little longer on the mound. That’s a point of emphasis for him as he works toward next season.

“I want to get in even better shape and be able to go deeper in games,” he said. “I want to make sure my arm stays healthy all year. I had like one complete game, but I was usually able to just go six or seven innings. I want to be able to go that extra inning so we can take that away from the bullpen and use it another time during a series.

“Once fall rolls around, I’ll work on pitches again and tighten up some of my sliders and changeups. For right now, I’m just getting in shape.”

He and some other Rebels are here this summer. Of the returnees, just Trent, Sikes Orvis, Will Jamison, Holt Perdzock, Sam Smith, and Scott Weathersby are in Oxford. All the others are newcomers.

Trent said he and the other small group of veterans here now are helping the new guys adjust.

“Just go back to how I felt,” he said of a year ago. “It’s a new program, you don’t know how things are run, and it takes some time to get into things. I’ve already met all the new guys. I already feel like they’re getting into it. The conditioning is really hard. Just be there for them. Let them know you just have to push through it and work your hardest. Summer is big for the new guys. They need to know what Ole Miss baseball is all about and what is expected. It’s a good transition for them to get ready.”

As for his future, the Dodgers could still check back in. But Trent doesn’t believe they will. He told them there’s no reason.

“I just said ‘I’m going to go back to school. Thanks for the opportunity and everything, but I’m not ready to leave yet.’ My last conversation with (the Dodgers) was two days ago. It obviously will be the last, because I told them flat-out no.”

And Ole Miss baseball 2015 is certainly the beneficiary of that.


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