Rebels know who they will host this weekend

The Ole Miss Rebels (37-23) knew they were in. They knew they were hosting another get-together. They just didn't know who else was attending the big event at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. Now they do.

The other three teams coming to Oxford for the NCAA Regional are second-seeded Southern Mississippi, third-seeded Troy, and fourth-seeded Sam Houston State.

Ole Miss, the top seed in the Regional, played USM (38-21) twice this year, winning in Pearl 6-5 and losing in Hattiesburg 4-2. The Rebels have not played Troy (34-25) or Sam Houston State (38-22) this season.

It's the fourth straight year for Ole Miss to host an NCAA Regional in baseball. Only the Texas Longhorns, who came to Oxford two years ago for a Super Regional, have also hosted the past four seasons.

Rebel team captain Justin Henry said the troops will be ready come Friday at 7 p.m. when they take the field against Sam Houston State.

"We know this is a different time of the year," said Henry, who Sunday became perhaps the first player in Southeastern Conference Tournament history to be named a three-time All-Tournament selection at three different positions - DH in '05, 2B in '06, and OF in '07. "We can make or break the season right now. None of the games before matter. If we play like we are capable, we can win a Regional and advance. That's all we're focusing on now."

Prior to the Rebels' Friday night game, USM and Troy will play at 3 o'clock Friday afternoon.

The winner of the Oxford Regional is matched for a Super Regional against the Tempe Regional, hosted by the top seed there, Arizona State. The Sun Devils are the 5th national seed.

Other teams in the Tempe Regional are second-seeded California-Riverside (37-19), third-seeded Nebraska (30-25), and fourth-seeded Monmouth (36-22-1).

Henry said the Rebels have already put Saturday's two SEC tourney losses to Vanderbilt, including the dramatic 10th-inning setback, behind them.

"It's nothing we haven't been through before this season," the fourth-year junior said. "It's over and we're past it. We have plenty of experience this season of getting over tough losses. We're ready for Friday to get here so we can play again."

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said four straight Regionals to host is quite a statement for the program.

"Only Texas has also hosted for four straight years now," Bianco said. "I'm very proud we've done this for the fourth year. When you put yourselves in that type company, that's pretty good. We're glad for the consistency and for what the program has been able to do the past few years."

Henry said they know the teams coming in will be talented and difficult to beat, and that the Rebels are certain they'll have their hands full.

"It's a good field, and these are good teams," Henry said. "It will be a tough Regional, but we are excited about it."

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