Rebel baseball preseason notes

From Rick Stupak of Ole Miss athletics media relations.

REBELS ENTER FIFTH SEASON UNDER BIANCO: The 2005 season will mark head coach Mike Bianco's fifth year at the helm of the Ole Miss baseball program. He will enter the year with a 150-90-1 (.624 winning pct.) record with the Rebels and has a career mark of 250-161-1 (.608 winning pct.), that includes a three-year ledger of 100-71 (.585 winning pct.) at McNeese State from 1998-2000. Bianco will enter the 2005 season having recorded seven straight 30-win seasons as a head coach. He has made four NCAA Tournament appearances, including three with the Rebels (2001, 2003 and 2004).

OLE MISS ENJOYS MOST SUCCESSFUL FOUR-YEAR PERIOD IN SCHOOL HISTORY UNDER BIANCO: The 150 wins by the Rebels under head coach Mike Bianco entering the 2005 season represents the best four-year win total in school history. Ole Miss' 66 SEC wins during Bianco's four years are also the most in any four-year span in school history. Ole Miss has compiled a 150-90-1 record under Bianco, including a 66-54 record in SEC play. The following charts shows the top five, four-year spans, in terms of wins, in school history:

--All Games--

Years W-L-T Pct. Coach(es)

2001-present 150-88-1 .630 Bianco

2000-2003 141-94-1 .600 Harrison/Bianco

1999-2002 140-95-1 .595 Harrison/Bianco

1998-2001 133-99-1 .573 Harrison/Bianco

1992-1995 130-99 .568 Kessinger

--SEC Games--

Years W-L-T Pct. Coach(es)

2001-present 66-54 .550 Bianco

2000-2003 60-59 .504 Harrison/Bianco

1999-2002 60-59 .504 Harrison/Bianco

1998-2001 59-58 .504 Harrison/Bianco

1975-1978 48-45 .516 Gibbs

1997-2000 48-69 .410 Harrison

REBELS AIM FOR EIGHTH STRAIGHT 30-WIN CAMPAIGN: Ole Miss will enter the 2005 campaign looking to extend its school-record streak of 30-win seasons to eight. The last time the Rebels failed to achieve 30 wins in a season was 1997, finishing 22-31. Prior to the current run of 30-win seasons, Ole Miss had posted just eight 30-win seasons since recording its first back in 1977.

OLE MISS LOOKS TO MAKE THIRD STRAIGHT NCAA APPEARANCE: Ole Miss will aim for its third straight NCAA Regional bid in 2005. The Rebels are coming off back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time in school history after hosting its first-ever NCAA Regional last season. Ole Miss has made a total of 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, with three coming under head coach Mike Bianco.

PRESEASON POLLS: Ole Miss enters the 2005 season ranked No. 16 in both the preseason Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls, No. 17 in the preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association rankings and No. 18 in the preseason Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches poll. >br>
HEAD, HOLLIMAN EARN PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS: Junior 1B/LHP Stephen Head earned first team preseason All-America honors as a utility player from Collegiate Baseball newspaper and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). He also garnered first team preseason All-America honors by Baseball America as a first baseman. Junior RHP Mark Holliman was selected a third team preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

HEAD NAMED PRESEASON SEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Junior 1B/LHP Stephen Head was named the preseason SEC Co-Player of the Year by Head was also selected as a preseason All-SEC selection as a utility player.

Junior RHP Mark Holliman was also named to the first team preseason All-SEC squad by, while senior C Barry Gunther was named to the second team. Junior INF/RHP Brian Pettway earned third team preseason All-SEC honors as a utility player.

REBELS RETURN FIVE POSITION STARTERS: Ole Miss will enter the 2005 season returning five position starters from last year's team. Junior Stephen Head started 50 games at first base last season, and led the team in eight offensive categories. He posted a team best .346 batting average and drove in a team-high 53 runs while tying for the team lead with 13 HRs. Senior Cooper Osteen (.293 BA, 2 HRs, 27 RBI) started all 60 games last season at second base, while sophomore Chris Coghlan (.302, 2, 24) returns to third base after making 54 starts and earning Freshman All-SEC honors. Senior Barry Gunther (.323, 2, 28) is back behind the plate after drawing 52 starts.

In the outfield, sophomore Alex Presley is the lone returning starter. Last season, he made 46 starts in center and five in left field. He batted .311 with six HRs and 32 RBI in earning second team Freshman All-America honors from Baseball America.

Junior Brian Pettway (.305, 6, 31) also returns after making 38 starts at the DH. Pettway also made 10 starts at first base and six at third base.

ARM(ED) SERVICES: Ole Miss returns five pitchers that recorded 40 or more IP last season, including four hurlers with 50 or more IP. Junior RHP Mark Holliman and junior LHP Stephen Head anchor the pitching staff. Holliman, last year's No. 1 starter, went 9-3 with a 3.05 ERA, while striking out 101 in 106.1 IP to earn first team All-SEC honors. Head made 17 appearances, including eight starts, going 6-3, with five saves, and a 2.82 ERA. He also recorded 56 strikeouts in 70.1 IP.

Junior RHP Anthony Cupps made a team-high 20 appearances, including five starts, and was part of the Rebels' SEC rotation at the end of last season. Cupps went 3-4 with a 3.41 ERA, while recording one save. Junior LHP Matt Maloney (1-3, 4.66 ERA) also returns after moving into the weekend rotation at the later part of last season.

Junior LHP Eric Fowler (3-1, 5.80) returns after appearing in 15 games last season, including making nine starts.

All total, the Rebels return seven pitchers that accounted for 72 percent of the team's total of 529 innings last season.

HEAD CLOSING IN ON SCHOOL CAREER SAVE MARK: Junior LHP Stephen Head will enter the 2005 season six saves shy of the Ole Miss career record of 24 set by Justin Huisman (1998-2000). For his career, Head has converted on 18-of-19 save opportunities. He set the school's single-season record for saves as a freshman in 2003 with 13.

OLE MISS LOOKS TO CONTINUE HOME FIELD SUCCESS UNDER BIANCO: Since head coach Mike Bianco's first season in 2001, Ole Miss has posted an impressive 101-37-1 (.730 winning pct.) record at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field, including a 37-23 (.617 winning pct.) record in SEC home games.

Ole Miss went 26-9 (.743 winning pct.) at home last season, finishing two wins shy of the school record for wins in a season set by the 1986 team with 28 at old Swayze Field. The 2002 team won 27 home games to set the season mark for home wins in the Rebels' current facility.

Dating back to the 2003 season, the Rebels have won 31 of their last 40 games within the "friendly confines" of Swayze Field.

The following chart shows the Rebels' year-by-year home record under Bianco:

Year Overall Pct. SEC Pct.

2001 25-8-1 .750 10-5 .667

2002 27-9 .750 7-8 .467

2003 23-11 .676 10-5 .667

2004 26-9 .743 10-5 .667

Totals 101-37-1 .730 37-23 .617

REBELS TO HAVE 33 HOME DATES IN 2005: Ole Miss will play 33 games within the "friendly confines" of Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field during the 2005 season, starting with the season opener against Arkansas State on Feb. 15. Other non-conference teams slated to visit Oxford this season are: Belmont (Feb. 22), Southern Illinois (Feb. 25-27), Northwestern State (March 1-2), Purdue (March 4-6), Sam Houston State (March 11-13), SE Missouri State (March 15-16), Southern Miss (April 19), Memphis (APril 26) and Murray State (May 4).

The Rebels are also scheduled to open their SEC schedule at home, starting with a three-game series against Florida, March 18-20. Ole Miss will also play host to SEC-foes Alabama (April 8-10), Georgia (April 22-24), Mississippi State (April 29-May 1) and South Carolina (May 13-15).


Ole Miss will enter the 2005 season 131-5 (.963 winning pct.) when leading after eight innings under head coach Mike Bianco.

The Rebels are scheduled to make two appearances at Jackson's Smith-Wills Stadium in 2005. Ole Miss will play in-state rival Southern Miss on March 8 and the Rebels will meet arch-rival Mississippi State in the 26th annual Mayor's Trophy game on March 29.

Ole Miss returns 54.5 percent of its home run production from last season.

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