Catching Up

Checking in with some Ole Miss sports as winter moves toward spring.

Hopefully those of you who can be here, and who aren't taking in other Mardi Gras activities, are making plans to come to Oxford-University Stadium next Tuesday for the debut of the "new" facility. It won't be a totally finished product, but it gets closer every day.

By a week from today, the stadium will be functional for a game. Most of what isn't finished will be nothing more than a visual situation – a construction vehicle here, a pile of rubbish there, a temporary fence here, lack of landscaping there. I believe all that will be taken care of by SEC play in a month.

I know most of you can't wait to see it. I heard on Rebel Yell Hotline Monday night a caller who said how impressed he was at the Egg Bowl when he saw the baseball stadium and how it was looking. There's no comparison now to what it was in November.

There are a lot of opportunities coming up for you to check the place out soon. After three games in Mobile, Ole Miss is in Oxford for 10 of its next 11, all non-conference action.

The SEC home slate begins with Alabama on March 20.

Ernest Ross' men's golf team was impressive last weekend. At the Gator Invitational, the Rebels finished second to the host team in an impressive field that included LSU, Mississippi State, Wake Forest, Duke, Florida State and several other strong golf programs.

Freshman Sean Dale finished in a tie for sixth overall to lead Ole Miss. The Jacksonville native fired rounds of 67, 70, and 71 and had to be one of the happiest players in the entire field. He had picked Ole Miss over Florida for college. Even though his chosen team finished second, it was still a strong weekend for the Rebel rookie and his teammates.

In men's tennis, I found it interesting to have been asked more than once the past couple of days, "What's wrong with the men's tennis team?"

The answer is nothing, it appears. There was a setback to sixth-ranked Southern Cal in the National Team Indoor, but that is the only loss of the spring so far. The Rebels are 6-1 with wins over Wake Forest, Kentucky, Florida State, and SEC foe Florida, ranked seventh nationally at the time. They also beat Mississippi State for the 22nd straight time, and they rolled past Troy in the first match of the spring.

Billy Chadwick moved freshman Devin Britton to No. 2 singles and senior Jonas Berg up to No. 1, and that seems to have been a successful move. Devin won his last two singles matches (vs. FSU and UF; likewise for Jonas).

The team had the flu bug last week, and wasn't at their fittest. Still they managed to get some big wins.

The Ohio State match was "stormed out" as power failed in the Columbus, Ohio, indoor facility where the match between No. 1 OSU and No. 9 Ole Miss was to have been played. The Rebels obviously could have lost that one, too. But we'll never know.

What we do know is that they head to Texas next week for matches against TCU and Baylor, both to be played in Waco.

The Lady Rebel tennis team rolled past Iowa in Oxford Sunday 6-1 to even its record at 2-2. Grenada native Kristi Boxx, a freshman, won both her singles match and doubles match (teamed with Karen Nijssen) against the Hawkeyes.

The Lady Rebel tennis team has a chance this season to be improved over the past few. Once an SEC power, they've struggled to get back to that level. Injuries have played a key factor through much of that time, so if they stay healthy this spring, Mark Beyer's squad can make some noise in the conference and hopefully beyond.

The Lady Rebel golf team, which starts spring play Feb. 22 in a tourney at Kiawah Island, S.C., will host its own tournament this spring with a strong field that includes the likes of Kentucky and Mississippi State from the SEC as well as Missouri of the Big 12 and Oregon State of the Pac 10.

The Rebel Intercollegiate (April 3-5) includes a College-Am on April 2. So if you want to get a foursome together or just sign up individually, those who enter will be paired with a college player from one of the 15 teams.

Michele Drinkard's golf squad is coming off an impressive fall season, winning the Missouri tournament and with top five finishes in events at Tennessee and Auburn.

Missy Dickerson's Rebel softball team is off to a fast 5-3 start, its latest conquest coming against New Mexico at the Baylor tourney.

Their reward? A trip to warm, sunny Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend for a strong field of foes including BYU, Fullerton, Cal, Washington, and Loyola Marymount.

Actually it isn't really a reward. The tournament was already on the schedule, obviously. But with temps topping only into the low 40s in Oxford today, heading to the desert might not be a bad thing to do this time of year.

More UM sports updates, including men's and women's track, later.


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