Bukvich set to go Saturday

HOOVER, Ala. - Ole Miss underwent a light workout Friday at Samford University, and it seemed like everyone knew who was going to throw the tournament semifinal except for the pitcher himself.

I shook Brett Bukvich's hand and asked him about getting the start Saturday, but the tall southpaw gave an unexpected answer.

"You are the first person I've heard it from," Bukvich said. "Well, that's good. I'm ready to go, and we are at a big advantage by winning those first two."

Mike Bianco laughed when I told him about Bukvich's lack of information, but the skipper said that there was a reason.

"It's one of those things that you forget to say at two o'clock in the morning," Bianco joked. "We pretty much knew yesterday that he would throw, and with his performance last week, he deserves to run out there."

That performance was a SEC Pitcher of the Week effort where Bukvich shutout Arkansas over seven innings of work. The outing rejuvenated the sophomore's season and was his first SEC start since Vanderbilt nearly two month's prior.

"That was such a big game for my confidence," Bukvich said. "I took baby steps to get back by starting midweeks, weekend games and now the SEC Tournament, but I feel good and am very confident. It's got me going again, and I am excited."

Success in Hoover is also not a foreign thing for Bukvich as he had a tremendous showing a year ago today opposite LSU. He limited the Bayou Bengals to four hits and one run during a 12-1 seven-inning mercy ruling on the second day of the conference tournament.

With the standout pitching performances by the Rebels this week, a similar Bukvich appearance would land Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament finals for the third straight season. Alabama and LSU are the only teams to ever accomplish that feat.

"With Kline and Lynn throwing like they are, it puts high expectations on me," Bukvich said. "It gives us all confidence with how they dominated."

The Rebels are more concerned with their own business and haven't performed much scoreboard watching, but Bukvich said a certain rematch wouldn't be a bad thing after what happened a while ago in Nashville.

"Facing Vandy again would be fun," Bukvich said. "That Vanderbilt game shell shocked me, and that is where it all started to unravel. No, I wouldn't mind it. I have been waiting 11 weeks for that."

No matter the opponent, Ole Miss still feels pressure even though the regional host spot is all but locked up. The Rebels say work is to be left done.

"We still think we have a shot at a national seed if we sweep the tournament," Bukvich said. "In a perfect world, we want the super regional to go through Oxford again. There is no release of pressure. We have the regional, but this is the toughest tournament in the country besides for the College World Series. It is one of our goals to win it, and we haven't finished that yet."

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