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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Feb. 24-March 2, 2015

Track & Field

- Ole Miss got SEC titles from Jalen Miller (60m), Daniel Bulmer (mile) and the distance medley relay, and the Rebels achieved their best SEC indoor finish since 1984.

- The Ole Miss men scored 62 points to finish fourth in the team standings, their third-best result in school history and best since tying for third 31 years ago. The team's 62 points were also their most at an SEC indoor meet since that year.

- Overall on the weekend, Ole Miss snagged three SEC titles, two runners-up and two school records. The only other time the Rebels won three titles at the SEC indoor meet was 1983.

- The Rebels' success was notable because 20 of the team's 44 participants were competing in their first SEC Championships, and the men were without injured distance standouts Sean Tobin and Robert Domanic.

- Miller has won every 60-meter race in which he's lined up this year, and captured the school's first ever SEC crown in the event with a time of 6.56 on Saturday.

- Bulmer and Craig Engels finished 1-2 in the men's mile at 4:03.28 and 4:03.76, respectively. Bulmer is the first SEC mile champion in Ole Miss history.

- Bulmer and Engels teamed with Dameon Morgan and Holland Sherrer to capture to Rebels' second straight SEC distance medley relay title. Crazy enough, it was four different men than last year's championship relay team.

- The women were highlighted a pair of school records. Freshman Brooke Feldmeier earned a silver medal in the 800 meters with a school-record time of 2:04.34, and senior Fabia McDonald broke her own record in the pentathlon (4,168) to place sixth.

Women's Basketball

- Ole Miss closed the regular-season with a 2-1 record in the final week of action, which included wins over No. 11/13 Kentucky and LSU before losing to instate rival, Mississippi State in the regular season finale. 

- Ole Miss concludes the regular season with a 17-12, 7-9 SEC record -- the most overall and SEC wins since 2009-10. 

- The Rebels, who were picked to finish 14th in the preseason SEC poll, finished tied for seventh and earned the No. 8 seed in the SEC Tournament -- its highest seed since 2009-10. 

- Tia Faleru posted double-doubles in two of the final three games of the regular season. She now has 13 double-doubles on the season and 33 career double-doubles. It is the second consecutive season the senior has recorded 10 ore more double-doubles after entering her junior campaign with just five career double-doubles. 

- Ole Miss' win over Kentucky gave the Rebels two wins over a ranked opponent this season and gave Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell his first win over his former team. The last time Ole Miss defeated two ranked foes was in 2009-10 when they had wins over No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 LSU. Additionally, the win over a top 15 foe was the first in the last 20 tries. 

Baseball

- The No. 18 Ole Miss baseball team went 2-2 last week with all four games being decided by one run

- The Rebels started with a 2-1 victory over Arkansas State in their first midweek game of the season.

- Sophomore left-hander Evan Anderson picked up the win, going five innings and allowing just one run on one hit and two walks while also adding four strikeouts to his stat line. Freshman Will Stokes closed out the game to earn the first save of his career.

- After the midweek victory, the Rebels hit the road for the first time this season, taking on an undefeated UCF team that was ranked 15th in the nation.

- In the series opener Friday night, Ole Miss saw the Knights rally from a four-run deficit before a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth lifted UCF to the 5-4 decision.

- Errol Robinson's diving catch and flip for a double play was No. 2 on Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays Friday night, Feb. 27.

 - Due to inclement weather on Saturday, Ole Miss and UCF played in a doubleheader on Sunday. It marked the third straight weekend the Rebels played a doubleheader, and for the third time, Ole Miss split the two games. The Rebels fell, 3-2, in a shortened 7-inning game one before claiming the series finale, 4-3.

- The Sunday victory gave UCF its first loss of the season. Florida natives Tate Blackman, Colby Bortles and Sikes Orvis recorded all four RBI in the win. Blackman doubled in the first run of the game, and Bortles hit his second homer of the season. Orvis also played long ball with a solo shot of his own before drawing a bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth that brought in the winning run.

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss dropped a pair of games last week versus Georgia and at LSU, snapping its school record four-game SEC road winning streak. 

- With one more win, Ole Miss will reach 20 wins for the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons before Kennedy's arrival. 

- The Rebels have 35 wins against SEC foes over the last three years trailing only Florida and Kentucky in the SEC. 

- Ole Miss ranks fourth in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 77.6 percent of its attempts. The Rebels have hit 326 of their last 416 (.784) attempts from the line. Junior guard Stefan Moody leads the SEC and ranks fifth in the nation shooting 91.2 percent from the free throw line.  

- Head coach Andy Kennedy is tied with Alabama's Wimp Sanderson for the third-most wins in SEC history with by a coach in his first nine years in the league at one school with 190. He trails only Kentucky's Joe B. Hall (205) and Florida's Billy Donovan (193). 

- Junior guard Stefan Moody averaged 25.5 ppg and knocked down 14 3-pointers in wins over MSU and Tennessee en route to his second SEC Player of the Week honor of the month. Moody is averaging 19.6 ppg over his last nine games and leads the SEC in scoring in league play at 18.4 ppg. 

- Senior guard Jarvis Summers is tied for the lead the league in assists in SEC play at 5.3/game and has posted 75 assists in his last 13 games. 

- Summers is the SEC active career leader in points (1,580), assists (500), minutes (3,730) and wins (82), and is just the fifth player in SEC history with 1,500 career points and 500 career assists.

Men's Tennis

- Ole Miss rose to No. 10 in the ITA National Rankings last week, their highest ranking since ending the 2013 season in the top 10. The Rebels finished the week 4-0 including wins over Tulane and No. 16 Vanderbilt to improve to 9-2 overall, 1-0 in the SEC.

- Senior Nik Scholtz went a combined 5-0 in doubles and singles on the week, including wins over the No. 14 ranked and No. 9 ranked players in singles.  His come-from-behind win over No. 9 Gonzales Austin clinched the Rebels' 4-0 victory against the Commodores.  He improved to 7-1 at No. 1 singles.

- Freshman Grey Hamilton came up big in his first SEC match, serving twice to stay in it at No. 3 doubles and then hitting a forehand winner down the line at 5-5 in the tiebreaker, setting up Scholtz' to serve it out for the first point of the match.

- The Rebels are a combined 14-3 at the two spots in the lineup, as junior Stefan Lindmark owns a 7-2 mark at No. 2 singles. He won both his doubles and singles to help in the win over Vanderbilt.

- The Rebels have now won 10 of the last 11 meetings against Vanderbilt.

Softball

- Ole Miss is coming off a 4-1 performance at the Felsberg Invitational hosted by FIU this past weekend in Miami.

- The Rebels' 12-5 start is the best through 17 games since posting the same mark to open the 2010 season.

- With a pair of one-run wins this past weekend, the Rebels have played in seven one-run games with a 5-2 record.

- Ole Miss has played 18 consecutive games on the road and will play 21-of-22 on the road to open the season.

- The Rebels have four players hitting over the .350 mark, paced by sophomore OF Miranda Strother at a .537 clip.

- Sophomore P Emily Gaitan helped lead the Rebels at FIU, posting a 3-1 record and is now 7-1 with a 1.53 ERA.

Women's Tennis

- The Ole Miss women rose to No. 15 in the rankings last week, their highest ranking since 1999.

- The Rebels opened SEC play on the road at No. 25 Kentucky and No. 13 Vanderbilt and lost a tight match to the Wildcats, 4-3, before dropping a 6-1 decision to the Commodores to close out the road trip.

- Senior Julia Jones, ranked No. 14, went 1-1 in singles and picked up her 93rd career last Friday in the loss to Kentucky. She is now 19-5 overall and 9-2 at No. 1 singles.

Rifle

- Ole Miss hosted the Great American Rifle Conference (GARC) Championships this past weekend and finished fifth overall with a 4613 aggregate.

- Freshman Jessica Haig led the Rebels with a personal best 579 in smallbore followed by a 590 in air rifle.  She finished with the 11th best combined score in her first conference championships.

- Sophomore Sarah Emery shot a career-best 584 in air rifle.

Ole Miss held its annual media day on Monday inside the Diamond Club at Oxford-Unversity Stadium, ahead of the Rebels' season opener Friday at 4 p.m. against William & Mary, the opening game of a three-game series. 

Here are some notes and quotes from the media opportunity with head coach Mike Bianco and selected players, looking at the batting lineup and the pitching staff heading into the start of the 2015 season.

The Hitters:

"As we start this spring, I in a way struggled to explain to the team, something different and something exciting for you to write about," Bianco said. "But, it seems that I come back to the same sentence, it seems very similar to last year. What I mean by that is we return some big pieces on the field. 

"When you look around the field on Friday, you will see Sikes Orvis, Errol Robinson, J.B. Woodman, Austin Knight, Colby Bortles. These are some guys who certainly played big roles for us last year in getting to the College World Series. And like last year, there is certainly going to be room for some new guys to step in and help us."

Projected Defensive Lineup:

C Austin Knight

1B Sikes Orvis

2B Tate Blackman

3B Colby Bortles

SS Errol Robinson

LF Connor Cloyd/Josh Watkins/Kyle Watson

CF J.B. Woodman

RF Cameron Dishon

Speaking to the batting order, Bianco said Woodman will likely lead off, followed by Robinson, Orvis, Bortles and Henri Lartigue, who will back up Knight at catcher and be a possible designated hitter. After those five in the order, Bianco said a lot of it will be determined by lefty-righty matchups.

More on Austin Knight:

Knight has appeared in 74 games over the last three year, drawing the start in 16 games, including two games behind the plate in the College World Series as senior Will Allen moved to designated hitter due to injury. During his career, Knight has played behind two Johnny Bench Award finalists in Allen and Stuart Turner, who won the award in 2013.

Knight: "I'm very confident going into the season. I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing against somebody else. I got to play behind two very good catchers and very good people (Stuart Turner and Will Allen). Being able to learn from those guys has been great."

Bianco, on Knight: "To catch in our system, every coach on the staff was a catcher, it's tough to catch here. We're very hard on the catchers. There is a high expectation, not only for your performance, but also your leadership, getting the signals, being able to handle the staff, body language and all these other things we talk about. That's one of the reasons why Austin will be starting on Friday night. Not only can he handle it behind the plate and catch the ball and hit for us, but he's our best option as far as leadership and doing all the things we need from that position."

LHP Christian Trent, on Knight: "I was close to him last year, but Will caught the majority of my games. He's going to be fine. He's going to step up and take the place of Will. He has a good arm. He's really good at receiving the ball. As a pitcher, I'm already comfortable with him."

More on Tate Blackman:

Sikes Orvis and Errol Robinson return at their respective spots in the infield. They are joined by Colby Bortles, who played in 40 games, drawing the start in 14 games, nine at designated hitter and five at first baseman, as well as Tate Blackman, the preseason SEC Freshman of the Year by D1Baseball.com, who will start at second base for the Rebels.

Blackman: "It's a blessing to get the opportunity. I came in here as a freshman, trying to work hard on and off the field. My goal was to come in here and making a big impact my freshman year, and hopefully Friday will be a good day for me and for my team."

Bianco, on Blackman: "We think he is our best option at second. We saw a kid that didn't play like a freshman, not just with his ability, but with the way he carries himself. Tate looks like the guy that is most ready to play. He is an outstanding hitter, runs well and is a good defender. I am excited about all of the freshman.

Orvis, on Blackman: "He has a lot of talent, a lot of power, a lot of juice, and he's not afraid to mess up. He gets right in there. He's a hard-nosed player. He's going to be really good. The game speeds up on him as it does for all freshmen, but he has all the confidence in the world in himself, so he'll be fine."

More on the corner outfielders:

J.B. Woodman, the Rebels' leading returning hitter by batting average (.298), returns to the outfield, as he moves to center field, having played mostly right field and designated hitter this past season. Cameron Dishon will step into a bigger role as the start right fielder, having played mostly as a pinch runner and defensive replacement over the last two years. 

At the other corner outfield spot, what Bianco called the big question mark, as they open the season, Bianco said they will probably play a lot of guys to start with, mentioning junior college transfers Connor Cloyd and Josh Watkins, as well as freshman Kyle Watson by name. Another freshman, Will Golsan, might also figure in the mix.

Bianco, on left field: "I don't know if you need to have two games in a row or three games in a row," Bianco said. I don't know if there's a number. It's more feel. The goal over the first four weeks is to find the best lineup by the time we get to LSU on the opening weekend of SEC play. One of those guys can DH, somebody can play left, one of the other outfielders could sit a game and we can play two of those guys, so a lot of it just depends."

The Pitching Staff:

"On the mound, we are a little different than last year in the sense that last year at this time I think that was the big talk and most of the questions in the preseason press conference were about the pitching and the starting pitching, maybe for the lack of experience in the projected starters," Bianco said. 

"This year we return two of the SEC starters (Christian Trent and Sam Smith) from last year, along with some guys who have tons of experience like Scott Weathersby, Wyatt Short and Matt Denny. These are guys who gained some valuable experience for us last year."

Friday: LHP Christian Trent

Saturday: RHP Sam Smith

Sunday: RHP Brady Bramlett

Trent, on the move from Saturday starter to Friday starter: "My routine is not going to change. You're still coming to the field and do everything pregame I did last year. The role is different. Pitching on Saturday, the mindset was to win the series or push the series to a third game. I like the role of Friday because you can start the series off with a win and give your team a chance to get ahead in the series early."

More on Bramlett and Johnson:

Earlier in the spring, Bianco said Sean Johnson, a 6-foot-7 right-hander from the junior college ranks, would be a weekend, but he's been dealing with tendinitis and will be limited to bullpen work in the first weekend. In his place, Smith will move up to Saturday, and Bramlett will get the start on Sunday. Bramlett, himself, missed the last part of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to recovery from a torn labrum.

Bianco, on Bramlett: "You don't know when they come off an injury where they are going to be or how they are going to be that first year back. When they are released and able to pitch you have to see how they are. 

"Brady had a really good fall. Once we got back, his three starts were probably better than any of the starters. He was pretty spotless here this January and early February. We are excited. He is a guy when we recruited him a couple years ago we knew would have a big time fastball. His slider keep coming, and he has improved his change-up. We really think he is going to have a big year."

Bianco, on Johnson: "We mentioned earlier to some of you that Sean Johnson would be a weekend starter. He came up a few days before our first intersquad game with some tendonitis in his shoulder. He is fine and he threw a bullpen on Friday. Sean will throw another bullpen tomorrow. He will not pitch in the first weekend, he just isn't in shape enough to start and log that many innings. Look for him to, at some point, get back into that starting role."

More on the bullpen:

After the graduation of Brett Huber two seasons ago, the program's all-time saves leader with 38, five different players recorded saves for the Rebels this past season, two of whom return in left-hander Wyatt Short and right-hander Scott Weathersby. Bianco also mentioned left-hander Matt Denny and right-hander Will Stokes, a freshman, as arms out of the bullpen. 

As far as the closer situation, Bianco said it will be a combination of guys, at least to start the season, similar to last season.

More from Bianco: "At the beginning, we'll go with a handful of guys and see if somebody emerges. Last year, we tried to force that a little bit. I think that guy has to just emerge. If that's the case after a certain period of time, if there's one guy we are better if he's pitching at the end of the game, then certainly we will do that. 

"We have shown an ability to do that in the past, when you look back at guys like Brett Huber, Jake Morgan, Scott Bittle or Stephen Head. If not, you can certainly win the other way, where you put the best guy out there on that particular day, much like we did last year, especially at the end of the year."

Allen, Orvis Lift Rebels Past TCU

OMAHA, Neb. -- Will Allen and Sikes Orvis, previously hitless in Omaha, led the hit parade with three hits each, as Ole Miss avoided elimination and advanced to play Virginia in a rematch on Friday at 7 p.m.

After going 6-for-57 and scoring just three runs through its first two games at the College World Series, the Ole Miss exploded, relatively speaking for TD Ameritrade Park, for six runs on 11 hits. 

The six runs matched Vanderbilt's six runs from it's 6-4 win over UC Irvine on Monday and the 11 hits matched Vanderbilt's 11 hits, also from it's win over UC Irvine, and Virginia's 11 hits from it's 3-2 win over TCU on Tuesday

"We had some better at-bats today, and it shows you when the wind is not blowing in 20 miles an hour," head coach Mike Bianco said. "It's a little different here. But we were able to barrel some balls up and get some hits."

"We knew coming into this game that we couldn't win a ball game scoring one or two runs," Orvis said. "We knew we had to come out as an offense and swing the bat early and get some pressure off our pitching staff and put some runs on the board. Once we get this offense going, we can be pretty good and pretty scary."

After a couple of one-spots against Virginia and Texas, Ole Miss put together the big inning with three runs in the third, which started with a double from J.B. Woodman and also included an RBI single from Braxton Lee and Allen's two-RBI double.

"To come out and put a crooked spot up, it's crucial no matter what, especially with the offense being kind of stagnant the past couple of games," Orvis said. "It was awesome to get the monkey off the back early and get going." 

Allen gave the Rebels the lead for good, 5-4, with an RBI single to center in the seventh, his third RBI of the game after knocking in a pair of runs with a double to right-center in the third. 

TCU with the game-tying and game-winning runs in scoring position with two outs in the eighth, but Aaron Greenwood got a chopper to shortstop, which Errol Robinson charged and threw to first for the last out of the inning.

"He really attacked and was super aggressive going after it," Bianco said. "As soon as the ball was hit, I looked up at him and he was flying across the infield. It was a great play, and he was dripping with a lot of confidence as he ran off the field."

"I knew he was a burner at the plate, so it was about going and getting it and cutting down the hops," Robinson said. "It was fairly routine. You're a shortstop and you're supposed to make those plays. It was a crucial play late in the game that you need, so it was a big play in the game."

Allen and Orvis combined to add an insurance run in the ninth with a two-out single from Allen, followed by a two-out, RBI double from Orvis to stretch the lead to 6-4. Allen finished the game 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI, while Orvis was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

"We had some good barrels tonight," Allen said. "We found some gaps, found some holes, and then just getting people on base. You saw (Auston) Bous(field) running and just putting pressure on the opposing team. It definitely helps. Once we got going, one through nine, there is not an easy out. It's a really tough lineup to face. And luckily we scored some runs tonight." 

With the win, Ole Miss improved to 4-0 in elimination games in the NCAA Tournament and will face at least one more elimination game, needing to defeat top-ranked Virginia twice to advance to the national championship series.

"We play our best baseball with our backs against the wall," Orvis said. "This is a very tough team. It's a very mature team. We know what's on the line. We have nothing to lose; just play. Win or go home."



OMAHA, Neb. -- Ole Miss entered the game with a .303 team batting average, tops in the College World Series field, but it was limited to just one run on one hit in a 2-1, walk-off loss to Virginia. It was the lowest hit total of the season for the Rebels.

Virginia left-hander Nathan Kirby allowed one run in seven innings, and Virginia right-hander Artie Lewicki worked a perfect eighth and ninth to set up the dramatics in the bottom of the ninth.

"Kirby was tremendous," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We could not solve him. We could not catch up to the fastball. It seemed like we would get to it and then he would mix in a breaking ball or change-up, but we really couldn't get to his fastball."

"He's a great pitcher," said shortstop Errol Robinson, who had the only hit for the Rebels. "He stayed away. He dominated the zone. He kept us off balance for most of the game. He did all the things you expect a great pitcher to do."

Kirby, the Atlantic Coast Conference Co-Pitcher of the Year and a first team All-American, did not allow a runner to advance into scoring position until the eighth, when Ole Miss manufactured its only run with two walks, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out.

"My plan was to just make them beat me," Kirby said. "I did a good job at that. In the eighth, I missed a couple of pitches, and you can't do that."

He took the no-decision, as did Ole Miss right-hander Chris Ellis, who bounced back from his second-shortest outing of the season in the super regional against UL Lafayette. Ellis allowed six hits with four walks and three strikeouts but limited the damage to one run.

"Their pitcher (Kirby) did a tremendous job," Ellis said. "It was one of the best games thrown I have seen in a long time. They deserved to win that game. They played a little bit better than we did."

After a leadoff walk and a successful sacrifice bunt, Virginia had a runner at second with one out in the ninth. Ole Miss right-hander Aaron Greenwood struck out the next batter for the second out. 

Greenwood got two strikes on Virginia first baseman Mike Papi, before ball three, and then the walk-off hit, a double to deep right-center over the head of Ole Miss center fielder Auston Bousfield.

"Aaron was close," Bianco said. "He was a pitch away from getting out of it. Mike (Papi) did a good job of staying on that ball."

"We kept getting opportunities and just couldn't get that big hit to tack on some more runs," said Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor, whose Cavaliers left 11 runners on base. "We saved it for the dramatics there in the ninth."

Virginia advances to a winner's bracket game against TCU at 7 p.m. CT on Tuesday, while Ole Miss moves into an elimination game against Texas Tech at 2 p.m. CT, also on Tuesday.

"It's not as big an uphill battle because you have the rest," Bianco said. "The bullpen guys that threw tonight will be able to throw for sure back on Tuesday. But you have to play well. That's what we have preached all week. You have to make pitches, you have to have good at-bats and you have to play good defense."

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Amid regional host and national seed discussion, 10th-ranked and second-seeded Ole Miss opens Southeastern Conference Tournament play Wednesday against seventh-seeded Arkansas. The Rebels are squarely on the national seed bubble after finishing the regular season 40-16 overall and 19-11 in SEC play.

Ole Miss will start junior right-hander Chris Ellis Wednesday against Arkansas, followed by sophomore left-hander Christian Trent on Thursday against third-seeded LSU or sixth-seeded Vanderbilt. 

Ellis enters Wednesday with a 9-0 record and 2.12 earned run average with 52 strikeouts and 28 walks in 89.0 innings. He has also posted six consecutive quality starts, including a win over Arkansas on May 2.

"It definitely wouldn't hurt to win a couple of games," senior catcher Will Allen said. "Obviously, we're not going to go down there and not try to win. As long as we're playing baseball, we're going to do the best we can. If we play well and do what we can and make a run in the tournament that would definitely help. It's up in the air, and we'll see."

With a series win at Texas A&M, Ole Miss moved up two spots to No. 13 in this week's official RPI rankings. Fellow SEC national seed contenders Vanderbilt, which Ole Miss might face in an SEC Tournament matchup Thursday, and South Carolina are ranked Nos. 6 and 8, respectively.

"You can't control what they do or how they're playing, but as long as keep playing well, we'll make a run at a national seed," senior third baseman Austin Anderson said. "All we can do is play well and win. If you start looking at that, you get distracted from what we're trying to do. Although it would be great to be a national seed and host a Super Regional, as long we keep winning, it doesn't matter where we play, we'll make it to Omaha."

For Allen and Anderson, they have achieved two team goals for the first time in their four-year careers: win 40 games and claim an SEC Western Division Championship. Other goals, however, remain ahead of them, as they want to finish strong and leave their legacy, individually and as a team.

"It's something we have been focused on the whole year," said Allen of the national seed talk. "One of our goals is to host a Regional and host a Super Regional. You have to take it game-by-game and really focus on the task at hand. Right now, we have the SEC Tournament. It would be really cool win an SEC Championship. None of us here now have done that, so we would love to do that."


Rebels Rolling Entering Hoover

Ole Miss left Tuscaloosa with a 4-5 record in SEC play, having just been swept at Alabama and having lost two of three at South Carolina two weekends previously.

From there, the Rebels have gone 15-6 in SEC play, including four straight series wins to end the regular season. The 21-game stretch also included weekend sweeps of Auburn and Kentucky and just one series loss, at home against LSU.

"Last year, we had a pretty good year, but we seemed to be dying out at the end and lost two of three at LSU," Anderson said. "At Hoover, we won our first game and then lost the next two. It seems like the team is playing well and we have a lot of confidence going into the postseason."

The Rebels have also shown an ability to bounce back this season. Ole Miss is 10-5 after losses, including a 7-1 mark since the 4-5 start in SEC play. They look to continue the trend coming off a 9-6 loss at Texas A&M in the regular season finale.

"Throughout the year, we have lost some close games," Allen said. "It seems like the next game we bounce back. I don't know the record off the top of my head, but it seems like after the games we have lost and the next game we play, we get right back on track. That's huge. To not really go through too many peaks and valleys but just consistently play, we have been able to do that this year."


Allen Wins Regular-Season Batting Title

Will Allen won the SEC regular-season batting title, with a .359 average, edging Kentucky's A.J. Reed by percentage points. He surged to the league lead, going 6-for-12 for the weekend series at Texas A&M. He also ended the regular season ranked second in RBI (55), second in hits (80) and seventh in home runs.

Allen has started all 56 games, including 50 at catcher, after serving primarily as the DH as a junior. He credits two years of maturity and strength and conditioning to coach Ben Fleming, for his ability to maintain his weight and remain consistent throughout the season.

"We lift two times a week and try to maintain my weight," Allen said. "A couple of years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight. I am making sure I stay between 225-230 pounds. I do a lot of stretching on my own before practice. I'm more mature with taking care of myself and making it a priority."

Robinson, Woodman Lift Rebels Late

Freshmen Errol Robinson and J.B. Woodman have been on a tear since the start of the Kentucky series. Robinson has raised his average from .285 to .310, hitting at a .375 clip, while Woodman has raised his average from .280 to .336, hitting at a .435 clip.

Woodman earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors for his role in helping Ole Miss clinch the SEC West. He drove in the game-tying run in Thursday night's win at Texas A&M and then drove in the game-tying run and scored the game-winning run in Friday's win at Texas A&M.

"The freshmen have had a big impact," Anderson said. "Errol, JB and Colby (Bortles), and Wyatt Short out of the bullpen, have had great years. Even as an older guy, when you see a freshman player with that confidence, it makes it a lot easier for us to feed off of that. Our whole team feeds off one another."



After giving up a run in the first, Sam Smith and Jeremy Massie kept Georgia off the scoreboard for the rest of the game and Auston Bousfield delivered the big hit, as Ole Miss clinched the weekend series with a 2-1 win in 10 innings. It was the Rebels' seventh walk-off win and their first since April 4.

Smith posted his ninth quality start, his first since a stretch of eight quality starts from March 2 to April 19, as he gave up just one run on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts in seven innings, which is tied for his second-longest outing of his career. Over his last three innings, he allowed just one base runner.

"He was great," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Even in the first inning, where they scored a run, they were good pitches. They were balls that happened to find holes, and they happened to be running on one of them, which a guy goes from first to third, and he ends up giving up a run. The first couple of innings, he gave up some hits, but they were not necessarily bad pitches. He had better stuff and command today. 

"His last two or three innings were better than his first two or three innings. That's saying a lot. Usually that doesn't happen as much for him. Usually he gets a little tired. He caught his second wind somewhere around the fifth inning and really made some pitches."

From there, it was all Jeremy Massie, who worked three innings of scoreless relief. He allowed just one hit with no walks and four strikeouts, retiring the last seven batters he faced. It was his third-straight relief appearance, which also included four scoreless innings against Kentucky on April 27.

"He's very mature," said Bianco of the move to the bullpen. "He pitches with a lot of confidence. He does what he does well. Some people complicate it. Some people think that you have to do something if you're a starter or a reliever. It's a great lesson for our young guys to watch. Most of them usually start out as a deliver. He's been both. He's been terrific since we have moved him back to the bullpen."

"He's very important to us," Errol Robinson said. "Every time he gets in the game, he's doing something to get productive out, gets ground balls and a strikeout here and there. He's been so important to us.

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 37-15 overall and 17-10 in SEC play and finishes the regular season with a 25-7 record at home. The Rebels can clinch the SEC West with two wins at Texas A&M next weekend.


 

Pitching, Defense Key Rebels To Win

Ole Miss struck early with five runs over the first four innings, which Chris Ellis and Wyatt Short made hold up in a 6-1 win over Mississippi State Friday night at Dudy Noble Field.

The leadoff man for Mississippi State reached base safely in five of the seven innings that Ellis started, but he limited the damage to one run in 6.2 innings, as he scattered eight hits with a walk, two hit batsmen and two strikeouts. It marked the seventh time in nine starts that he allowed no earned runs or one earned run this season.

"He was terrific," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He made pitches when he had to. He looked like he was so in command of the game. I was proud of the way he pitched, better than he's been in a while."

"It felt like every inning they got a leadoff guy on, whether it was beating out an infield single, or I walk a guy, or hit a guy, but it was good to have defense behind me that turned doubles plays and made the big play to get me out of the inning," Ellis said.

A trio of defensive plays in the middle innings highlighted the effort in the field that included just one error and saved at least one run and possibly more. 

"Chris had a great game today, throwing strikes and making it easy on the defense, getting ground balls and double-play balls to get out of innings," Errol Robinson said. "He kept us in the game throwing strikes and not too many walks today."

In the fourth, Preston Overbey knocked a ball down hit to a hole on the right side and then caught the lead runner in a run-down between third base and home for the last out of the inning. 

In the fifth, Robinson and Overbey combined on a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning, and then in the eighth, Braxton Lee started the inning defensively with an outfield assist, as he cut the ball off and threw out the runner at second.

"It was a big double play, not just by Errol but also a tough turn," said Bianco of the double play. "They run well. We're not holding the guy at first, so he gets a great jump, and then it's a tough turn for Preston because they're all over him. He makes a great turn and gets out of it." 

Mississippi State threatened again later in the eighth with runners at first and second and two outs. Short, who entered the game the seventh, was behind 3-0 to Wes Rea, and then he battled back to a 3-2 count before getting a lineout to Overbey to end the inning.

"We need that," said Bianco of the defense. "We defended really well up until a few weeks ago, so we need to get back to that."



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