Selection Monday

Ole Miss baseball awaits its postseason locale. It’s become a habit this time of year. This is the 13th time in 15 seasons of the Coach Mike Bianco era for the Rebels to make it.

Of course, they haven’t been totally assured they are moving on. That will be revealed before noon Monday. But all signs point to the Rebels playing more baseball in 2015.

Their 30-26 overall record isn’t as impressive as most years, and their 15-14 Southeastern Conference regular season mark (with one rainout) is a few games off from even last season’s 19-11 record.

But their RPI, hovering around the No. 30 mark, and their Strength of Schedule, still No. 1 in the country as it has been much of the season, indicate an appearance this upcoming weekend somewhere.

There are 16 host sites, and the Rebels will wait to see where they go. They won’t be sent to SEC sites LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, or Florida. The other sites are Louisville, TCU, Dallas Baptist, Houston, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Illinois, Miami, Missouri State, UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, and UC Santa Barbara.

Leading Off

Errol Robinson, the sophomore shortstop, has made some spectacular defensive plays for Ole Miss all season and is now batting in the leadoff role with the injury to Connor Cloyd. Still recovering from a strained oblique all the way back in the Mississippi State series more than two weeks ago, Cloyd could return for the NCAA Tournament, but that remains to be seen.

“It’s hard to compare last year to this year,” Robinson said of his own season. “I was so young and was making that transition from high school to college. Everything was happening so quickly. This year I guess I’ve grown into the atmosphere and how everything works in the SEC, and matured as a player, I feel. That’s honestly all I could ask for.”

He credits the coaching staff for helping him progress in all areas this season.

“The coaches have helped me so much last year and this year to become a much better player and a better leader this year,” he said. “That’s been a focus of mine. I’ve tried to focus on being a leader and helping the younger guys.”

As far as being in the leadoff spot, he admitted not getting to first base as often as Cloyd did in the same role. But he’s giving it his best each time up.

“I honestly just try to get on base any way I can,” Robinson said. “It’s not too much different (from other spots in the lineup). Just stay with my approach and get on base any way I can.”

One member of the staff, Matt Tolbert, the former Rebel shortstop who had an extended major league career after college, has been a valuable resource for Robinson.

“Matt Tolbert has been a true blessing this year to me,” Robinson said of the first-year staffer. “He’s helped me with the speed of the game and with everything defensively. He will break it down for me. He’s a big-leaguer and I’m going to take all the advice I can and pick his brain as much as I can.”

Robinson is looking forward to Monday’s announcement so the Rebels can restart their season in the postseason.

“It’s going to be exciting to know where we’re going and who we’re up against,” he said. “As long as we stay focused and poised and deal with things like we have the adversity all year, I think we’ll be just fine.”

Consistency The Goal

J.B. Woodman is another, like Robinson, who was on last season’s College World Series team. The sophomore, playing center field this season, said the Rebels are taking advantage of the break between games.

“I think we’ll have like ten days off, so we got back to the basics a little bit,” he said. “It will help to get our feet back underneath us. I think the break is good.”

Woodman said last season’s experience in the multiple postseason games and dramatic moments will help the veterans this time around and also help them help the newcomers.

“Being there last year and playing a lot of postseason games, you know what it’s like and what the atmosphere is like,” he said. “Just go out there and play our best baseball and see what happens.”

Woodman said he’s had a season much like that of the team as a whole. Both positives and negatives.

“It’s been up and down. Good games and bad games,” he said. “It’s just about being more consistent.”


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