Power, a Hillcrest Christian alum, has made this trip to metro Jackson from Oxford many times the past several seasons. He was a redshirt freshman in 2005 when the Rebels played their two capital city games in Smith-Wills Stadium. His first season to actually play, the Rebels got together with Mississippi State at Smith-Wills. But the UM-USM affair moved to Trustmark Park, home of the Braves, that season.
The next year the Mayor's Trophy Game also moved, became the Governor's Cup, and Ole Miss now plays twice a season in Atlanta's AA ballpark.
The central and south Mississippi Rebel players always look forward to the games in Pearl, minus the nearly three-hour bus ride, one-way, that is. They beat Mississippi State two weeks ago at Trustmark 8-1. Last Wednesday in Hattiesburg, they defeated USM 8-4.
Power, who should know given his longevity with the program, says there's something special about this group.
"We're a little different team (than earlier ones he's been a part of)," the outfielder said. "It's hard to explain. The chemistry and everybody pulling for each other and everybody believing in each other and everybody battling for each other. This team has more of that, and it's a good feeling."
Nothing against those earlier teams, obviously, and they were highly successful. But there is some sense of what he's talking about from those who look into the program and see what's going on. There's a seriousness and also a looseness that hasn't always been there.
One of the keys has been this: The Rebels believe they'll always win, no matter the situation or the score.
"If we ever get down, we're just always battling back. That's what kind of team we are," said Power, whose two-RBI double in the eighth inning Saturday lifted Ole Miss to a 10-8 win against Georgia, a game the Rebels had trailed 5-1 in early. "We never quit fighting. That's the way it was this weekend, and we had a great go at it against Georgia. We were able to come out on top twice, and we're having a great season so far. We just need to keep it going."
The Rebels, 16-4 in their last 20 games, are feeling pretty good about the way things are going right now. They are 13-8 in the SEC and only a game behind league leaders LSU and Georgia, who are 14-7. Half a game separates the Rebs and Arkansas, who is 13-7 (with a rainout). Florida is tied with the Rebels for fourth in the SEC, also currently at 13-8.
Ole Miss will send junior LHP Nathan Baker (3-0, 3.02) to the mound tonight. USM will counter with Jeff Stanley (1-0, 3.80), also a junior left-hander.
Power said the Rebels believe their good play, and winning, will continue. Belief will always be a lot of what this squad is all about.
"We talked about that as a team (Sunday)," he said after taking the back two games against Georgia. "It was unbelievable with all the fans and all. And us coming out and playing as well as we did, it was awesome. If this was a Super Regional, there's no doubt we'd be going to Omaha."
Their sights are clearly set on things such as the College World Series. But they don't let future goals get in the way of current efforts staying in the "now."
"We know what we're playing for," said Power, as the Rebels also host Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Oxford. "(An SEC championship) is one of our goals. We're playing for that right now. We want to host a Regional and just keep going, playing like we're playing."
And winning like they're winning.
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