Ole Miss meets Tulane in three games on Greer Field at Turchin Stadium this weekend.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said it's always good to have that first road test of the season for more than just the games themselves.
"We always go on the road one (non-conference) weekend," he said. "The reason is so everybody can get used to things like the bus and packing and what to do. I'm sure the new guys are a little nervous. They'll get an itinerary, and they'll get a list of what to pack in the bags and what not. But that's why we do it. It's kind of a dry run. Once you get through it and get to Kentucky, it's not as big a deal. You just do the same thing again, just going the opposite direction."
The Rebels, currently 7-1 this season, open Southeastern Conference play in Lexington, Ky., in two weeks.
Bianco's first Ole Miss team back in 2001 played at Tulane in the NCAA Regional. That was 10 seasons ago, and much has changed at Turchin Stadium. Since Hurricane Katrina, the ballpark has undergone major changes, and Bianco wants to see how things look now.
"It's been a while," he said of the 2001 visit with his first team of Rebels. "I'm anxious to see their stadium. They have artificial turf now, even on the base paths, everything but the pitcher's mound. So I'm looking forward to seeing it. This will be a good trip for us and we'll be tested."
With a capacity of 5,000, the facility features a grandstand of 2,700 chairback seats. In addition it also features private suites, an open-air club suite, a partially covered seating area, and a new press box.
The playing surface is FieldTurf - the same surface used by several MLB and NFL stadiums. The FieldTurf replaces the natural-grass surface that the old Turchin Stadium had since its opening in 1991. The entire field, with the exclusion of the pitcher's mound, is FieldTurf, which all but eliminates the possibility of inclement weather making the field unplayable.
The Green Wave, 5-3 on the season, lost 7-2 at South Alabama Wednesday night.
Alex Yarbrough continues to impress. The freshman infielder, who has seen quite a bit of action at second base so far this season, had a quality game Tuesday night in the Rebels' 7-2 win against Memphis.
"It's nice to see him get a couple of hits (Tuesday), because he's really swung it well and really hasn't had a lot to show for it," Bianco said of the switch-hitter from Allen, Texas. "He's had a lot of hard ground balls, a lot of hard lineouts. (Tuesday) he got the big hit with bases loaded in a 2-2 game. Then he switches to right-handed and gets a big triple at the end of the game. He made a nice double play as well. Then he ran over there next to the wall to catch the fly ball. A lot of people don't realize with the wind and running toward the wall, to catch a fly ball is not an easy play for a freshman. But he's been terrific."
Yarbrough said he gets more and more acclimated to Division I baseball with each passing game.
"My comfort level at the plate has gotten better and better," said Yarbrough, batting .316 with two triples and seven RBI to date. "In high school you have no idea where the strike zone's going to be. In college it's been immensely more consistent with the umpiring. So that's been good, too."
Defensively Yarbrough has been smooth as silk for the most part in the infield.
"It's gone great so far," he said. "I haven't committed an error yet – knock on wood. I feel really comfortable out there. I'm settling in at second base. It's great to have veterans like (Zach) Miller and (Kevin) Mort to help me every step of the way. If you ever have any questions, they're right there to help you."
Tuesday Night Specialist
After back to back Tuesday night starts, that doesn't mean Matt Tracy will always be in that role. But for now the junior LHP is pleased to be pitching and making a difference for his team.
"That helps out a lot," Tracy said of knowing he is the Tuesday night starter. "Coming out of the bullpen, you never know when you're going to get out there. You have to be ready every day. But starting on Tuesday means you have a specific day you throw your bullpen, and you kind of get into a rhythm that way."
And if they happen to need him in a different role at any point?
"I feel great right now," said Tracy, with a 1.26 ERA and a 1-0 record with three appearances and two starts. "But I'll throw whenever they need me."
Baseball Notebook: On The Road
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