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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.

After missing the end of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to recovery from a torn labrum, sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett has been brilliant in his first two outings back in 2015, fanning 19 batters through 12.0 innings, including a career-high 11 against Wright State on Sunday.

"I knew coming back, I had a lot to prove and self-imposed pressure, but I also knew that this would be a special year for not only myself, but also the team," Bramlett said. "I'm always working to keep my spot and improve myself."

In his return to the mound, Bramlett helped the Rebels clinch the season-opening series against William & Mary this past weekend, as worked a career-long 6.0 innings, giving up two runs on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. 

Bramlett followed that outing with perhaps the best pitching performance of his short Ole Miss career. He left with a 1-0 lead after six complete and took a no-decision, as he worked six shutout innings and set a career high with 11 strikeouts. He faced three over the minimum, giving up just one hit with a walk and two hit batsmen.

He also became the first Rebel to record double-digit strikeouts since Bobby Wahl struck out 10 in a win over Houston in 2012, and his 11 strikeouts were the most by a Rebel since Matt Tracy struck out 11 in a win over Jackson State in 2011.

"He misses a lot of bats," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He has a heavy, sneaky-fast fastball. He really locates it well. It's another really good day for him. He gave us everything he could for six innings."

That heavy, sneaky-fast fastball, Bramlett said, was his key to success. A fastball pitcher, Bramlett said the game plan going into every game is working off that pitch, and Sunday was no different.

"It's heavy when you hit, it's heavy when you catch it," Bianco said. "It doesn't seem like everybody else's ball. It's like a shot put coming in there. When people do hit it, they don't seem to make good contact with it. It's similar to Lance Lynn's ball. When look at the radar gun, it's not in the mid-90's, but yet, it looks like it to other hitters."

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review

Feb. 10-16, 2015

Men's Basketball

- Ole Miss saw its six-game winning streak snapped with a one-point loss to No. 23 Arkansas Saturday night. Junior guard Stefan Moody and senior forward M.J. Rhett each scored 16 points to lead the Rebels, but Ole Miss fell in the last seconds to the Razorbacks. 

- That was the second winning streak of six games or better against SEC foes under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just three such winning streaks in the 71 years before Kennedy's arrival. 

- Moody scored a game-high 18 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds on the clock to lift Ole Miss to a 62-61 win over Florida.  

- The Rebels overcame a five-point halftime deficit to knock off the Gators, thanks to Moody, who was 5-of-10 shooting from the floor - including a 4-for-7 mark from 3-point range - and senior G LaDarius White, who scored 16 points off the bench. 

- The win marked the Rebels first in Gainesville since 1999 and gave Ole Miss its first season sweep of the Gators since 1990.

- Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 78.9 percent of its attempts, which would rank second in  the NBA. The Rebels have hit 280 of their last 347 (.807) attempts from the line. 

- Moody leads the SEC and ranks seventh in the nation shooting 90.4 percent from the free throw line.

Baseball

- Ole Miss started the season winning two out of three against William & Mary, improving to 14-1 in season openers under head Coach Mike Bianco

- The Rebels have now won 11 season-opening weekend series during the Bianco era

- Ole Miss recorded 11 doubles during the series to tie for the most in the SEC

- The Rebels clinched the series with a 16-2 victory in game two of Saturday's doubleheader, the most runs scored by Ole Miss since facing Arkansas State last season, May 13, 2014

- J.B. Woodman smacked three doubles in the series finale, becoming the first Rebel to accomplish that feat since Alex Yarbrough did it against Arkansas, April 20, 2012

- Ole Miss ranks second in the nation in attendance in 2015 after bringing in an average of 8,489 fans during three games over the weekend for a total attendance of 25,469

Women's Basketball

- Senior forward Tia Faleru is 10 rebounds shy of her 800th career rebound. She will become one of seven players with 1,000 points and 800 rebounds and 150 steals. 

- Additionally, Faleru is approaching her 100th career assist and should she reach that, she will become one of a mere four players in program history with 1000 points, 800 rebounds, 150 steals and 100 assists.

- With her 18 points and 15 rebounds against Missouri, Faleru picked up her 30th career double-double. It moved her into the top five all-time at Ole Miss and gave her 10 double-doubles on the season. After going three straight games without a double-double, she has posted one in two of the last three games. 

-A'Queen Hayes had a career-high 16 points against Missouri for her eighth game in double figures this season and her first since scoring 12 against Mississippi State. 

- Fellow freshman Kiara Golden knocked down two triples against Missouri for her first points against an SEC foe and her third game with multiple three-pointers this season. 

Softball

- Ole Miss posted a 3-1 performance at the Battle at the Beach this past weekend, winning the tournament with victories over Iowa State, St. Bonaventure and Coastal Carolina.

- Junior OF Bri Payne tied the school record for RBI in a game with six RBI against Iowa State on February 14, tying the mark set by DeDe Justice in the 2003 season.

- Three Rebels were named to the All-Tournament team, including junior OF Bri Payne, sophomore OF Miranda Strother and freshman OF Elantra Cox.

- Strother hit .586 for the weekend, while Cox hit .571 and Payne turned in a .556 performance with eight RBI, sparked by a grand slam in the first inning against Iowa State.

- With the offensive outburst that led to the three-game win streak to close out the weekend, the Rebels now have four players hitting above .300 for the season - four over .400.

- Srother leads the Rebel offense, batting at a .533 clip for the year with five RBI and a team-leading seven runs scored, joining with Elantra Cox to hit above .500 on the year.

- Senior P Lauren Lindsey picked up her first win and save of the year, working 6.0 innings with no earned runs on Saturday in a win vs. Iowa State and save vs. Coastal Carolina.

- Sophomore P Emily Gaitan improved to 3-0 on the season with a win over St. Bonaventure with one earned run and a career-high 12 strikeouts against the Bonnies.

Women's Tennis

- The No. 24 Rebels won a pair of matches over the weekend, downing Tulane 6-1 and defeating William & Mary 5-2 to improve to 8-1 on the season.

 - The 8-1 start equals their best start since the 1997 season.

 - Senior Julia Jones rose to No. 7 in the nation this past week in the singles rankings and earned the highest ranking for a Rebel since two-time All-American Kristi Boxx was ranked No. 9 on April 10, 2012.

Men's Tennis

- The No. 19 Rebels participated in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships this past weekend. They lost a close 4-1 match to No. 2 Oklahoma, who made the final, and then rallied to defeat No. 10 UCLA 4-3 on Saturday. The Rebels concluded play with a 4-0 loss to No. 6 Duke.

- Stefan Lindmark was up in the third set and Vinod Gowda had split when Oklahoma clinched 10-8 in the third set tiebreaker at No. 4 singles.

- Senior Nik Scholtz picked up another ranked this weekend, beating Oklahoma's Andrew Harris, who is ranked No. 26.

Track & Field

-  The Rebels had their final tuneups for the SEC Indoor Championships at two of the best track meets of the season this past weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas (Tyson Invitational) and Seattle, Washington (Husky Classic).

- Ole Miss athletes achieved a total of 15 personal-best marks between the two meets.

-  Among the highlights for the men were Branden Greene's personal-best 7-1 in the high jump (ranks him fourth in school history), Craig Engels' personal-best 4:01.19 in the mile (ranks him fourth in school history) and MJ Erb's personal-best 14:11.34 in the 5,000 meters (ranks him fourth in school history).

- The women were led by personal bests from Shannon Ray in the 200 (23.92, ranks her fourth in school history) and Mary Alex England in the 5,000 (16:49.86, ranks her second in school history).

- Ole Miss men that rank top 40 in the NCAA are Jalen Miller in the 60 (3rd, 6.55), Robert Domanic in the mile (38th, 4:00.62), Robert Semien in the 60 hurdles (36th, 7.90), the distance medley relay (18th, 9:40.51), Branden Greene in the high jump (20th, 7-1), Adam Aguirre in the high jump (37th, 7-0.25) and Phillip Young in the long jump (23rd, 24-9) and triple jump (7th, 52-9.5).

- Ole Miss women that rank top 40 in the NCAA are Brooke Feldmeier in the 800 (9th, 2:05.27), Kierra White in the long jump (40th, 19-9.5) and Fabia McDonald in the pentathlon (17th, 4,057).

Rifle

- The Rebels dropped a pair of matches this past weekend, falling to Navy at home before traveling to Jacksonville State.

- Freshman Jessica Haig turned in a career-best performance in air rifle against Navy with a 591. She then fired a personal best 573 in smallbore on Sunday.

The men's basketball team marches on toward March, the baseball team opened the 2015 season with a series win over William & Mary and the softball team prepares for its home opener under first-year head coach Mike Smith. The winter sports are in full swing, while the spring sports have begun in earnest, so there are no shortage of thoughts and opinions on the week that was. Let's get into it:

- Valentine's Day was a busy day on the Ole Miss campus, with a baseball doubleheader, followed by a men's basketball nightcap, and Rebel Nation turned out in full force. Swayze Field was business as usual and will get better as the weather warms up, while the atmosphere at the Tad Pad was as electric as I can remember. It was fun spending the day with all y'all.

- The Ole Miss men's basketball team saw its its six-game winning streak, as the Rebels were on the right side of a one-point game in a 62-61 win at Florida on Thursday and on the wrong side of a one-point game in a 71-70 loss to Arkansas on Saturday.

- Impressive Stat #1: It was the second winning streak of six games or better against SEC foes under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just three such winning streaks in the 71 years before Kennedy's arrival. 

- The Rebels have been a regular on SportsCenter top 10 plays this season, and Stefan Moody became the latest to make the highlight, landing the No. 4 spot on Thursday night with his game-winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.

- Where Ole Miss made the play in a one-point win over Florida, the Rebels did not make the play in a one-point loss to Arkansas. Ole Miss had the ball up 70-69 with less than a minute to play. The Rebels had an offensive possession to extend the lead, a defensive possession to secure the lead and a final offensive possession to regain the lead, but they could not make the play in any instance, while the Razorbacks made the play in each instance. It happens.

"We made the shot Thursday night (against Florida) in a highly-contested game," Kennedy said. "We missed the shot tonight, and Arkansas made the play. I told the team that I didn't think we lost the game; I thought Arkansas won it."

- The Rebels continue to get production from their ever-improving big men, highlighted by M.J. Rhett's 16-point, nine-rebound game against Arkansas, perhaps his best game in an Ole Miss uniform, as they won the rebounding battle, 45-31, a margin that included 21 offensive rebounds compared to nine for the Razorbacks.

- Since big games in wins over Florida and Mississippi State, Jarvis Summers has seen a dip in production, averaging 6.8 points and shooting 25 percent from the floor, including 2-for-12 from 3-point range, over the last five games. For the Rebels to reach their full potential and perhaps make a run in March, they need more of the Summers from last season.

"He has been hesitant," Kennedy said. "We've tried to do some things to get him to his strength, and we'll continue to do that." 

- Despite the one-point loss to Arkansas, Ole Miss remains a team projected to be solidly in the field as a No. 9 or No. 10 seed, depending on the projection, but a potential RPI landmine looms large this week. Ole Miss play Mississippi State, a team ranked No. 187 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA, on the road in Starkville, where the Rebels have not won since 2009.

- The No. 18 ranked Ole Miss baseball opened the 2015 season, taking two of three in a weekend series against William & Mary.  The Rebels showed a strong bounce-back, routing William & Mary 16-2 in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader after suffering an 8-1 loss in the first game of the doubleheader.

"The first game was disappointing, but it was encouraging to bounce back in game two," head coach Mike Bianco said. "We needed that effort from Bramlett to shut them down and let us swing. That's the knock against us. There are a lot of young guys playing, even though they played some last year. We have to take the punch and do something bad but not let it blow up."

- Impressive Stat #2: Ole Miss improves to 11-0-1 in weekend series to open the season under Bianco.

- J.B. Woodman, who moved to centerfield and the leadoff spot, is off to a fast start in his new role. He went 5-for-9 with three doubles, two runs scored and three RBI. Just as notable, he walked three times and did not strike out on the weekend.

"He's not your prototypical leadoff guy," Bianco said. "It's not that he can't lead-off and it's not that he doesn't have the skill-set to do that, but he also has a skill-set to hit a double and a home run. Some guys like Braxton Lee and Jordan Henry don't have that skill-set. You have to let (Woodman) swing, but he can also walk, steal bases and do a lot of different things."

- It will be interesting to watch how the weekend rotation evolves this season. Sam Smith took the loss in game two of the weekend series, while Brady Bramlett earned the win in the series-clincher and Sean Johnson, another candidate for a spot in the weekend rotation, worked out a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. There are three more weekends remaining, before the Rebels open SEC play on the road at No. 2 LSU.

"He couldn't get the ball into the strike zone," said Bianco of Smith's outing. "He had to stop throwing the two-seam fast ball and went to the four-seam fast ball. He basically had no other secondary pitch. It got away from him. Give credit to them. It was a just tough day, really uncharacteristic of him. Usually we're asking him to get the ball out of the strike zone and live on the edges. Today, he couldn't get close enough in there."

- ICYMI #1: Here's a link roundup of stories leading up to the start of baseball, including the 2015 walk out music and pre-SEC Ole Miss opponent capsules from Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com.

- ICYMI #2: Newsreel: Ole Miss Baseball 2015, shot with old-school film.

- Time is running out for the Ole Miss women's basketball team, as the Rebels fell short at home against No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday and on the road at Missouri on Sunday, a game they likely needed to move closer toward NCAA Tournament consideration. 

- Ole Miss, now 14-11 overall and 4-8 in SEC play, has four regular-season games remaining and then at least one game the SEC Tournament. With one more win, the Rebels can clinch an overall record of .500 or better and eligibility of an at-large berth in the Postseason WNIT. 

- As far as the NCAA Tournament, opportunities remain on the schedule, as Ole Miss plays three teams ranked in the top 65 of the RPI, including two in the top 30, and then there's the SEC Tournament.

- The Ole Miss softball team wrapped up its 10-game road swing to open the 2015 season, going 3-1 at the Battle at the Beach hosted by Coastal Carolina. First-year head coach Mike Smith and the Rebels return home to host the Red and Blue Classic at the Ole Miss Softball Complex, where they will play four games in three days, starting with Tennessee-Martin on Friday night (6 p.m. CT).

- The No. 19 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team went 1-2 on the weekend at the ITA National Team Indoor in Chicago, highlighted by a thrilling 4-3 win over No. 10 UCLA in consolation play on Saturday. It was the Rebels' second top-15 win of the season, and they rallied from the brink of defeat, despite losing the doubles point and Nik Scholtz, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, dropping his first singles match of the season.

- The No. 24 ranked Ole Miss women's tennis completed a sweep of Tulane and William & Mary over the weekend, improving to 8-1 on the season and equaling its best start since 1997, when the Rebels also started 8-1. Julia Jones, ranked No. 7 in the nation, dropped her first dual match, only her fourth loss overall this season. 

What They're Saying: Baseball Opening Day

After advancing to the College World Series in 2014, the Ole Miss baseball team is set to open the 2015 season with a three-game series at home against William & Mary, starting Friday at 4 p.m. CT.

Here's a look at the opening day lineup via @CoachMikeBianco

Ole Miss enters the 2015 season ranked in three of the six major national polls, coming in at No. 18 in D1Baseball.com and USA Today Coaches' polls and No. 19 in the NCBWA poll.

More From OleMissSports.com and Ole Miss Blog:

Previewing the Batting Lineup and Pitching Staff

Ole Miss Baseball 2015 Walk Out Music

Blackman Embraces Preseason Expectations

Knight Ready to write his Own Story

More Big-Picture Stories:

Closer look at opening day lineup, writes Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com

How will Ole Miss baseball look in 2015?, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger

Deep, talented SEC looks for another run at CWS, writes David Brandt of the Associated Press

Ole Miss baseball has talent to keep good times rolling, writes Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger

Rebels not sitting on last year's success, writes Parrish Alford of the Daily Journal

More Player Feature Stories:

Bramlett recovered and ready to start, writes Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com

Knight Time, writes Jeff Roberson from the Ole Miss Spirit/Scout.com

Freshman Blackman expected to make impact, writes Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com

More from D1Baseball.com:

D1Baseball.com's breakdown of No. 18 Ole Miss from Kendall Rogers

Ole Miss is picked to finish third in the SEC West and second baseman Tate Blackman was named preseason SEC Freshman of the Year in D1Baseball.com's SEC preview from Kendall Rogers

Ole Miss is projected as a No. 2 seed in the TCU (Fort Worth) Regional in D1Baseball.com's Preseason Field of 64

D1Baseball.com's survey of head coaches on the new lower-seamed baseballs and their impact on college baseball from Aaron Fitt

More from Chase Parham of RebelGrove/Rivals.com:

Pre-SEC Ole Miss opponent capsules, looking at the nonconference schedule prior to SEC play

Bjork clarifies baseball student guidelines, talking about the new student guidelines for right field at baseball games

Freshman Kyle Watson vying for time in left field and other notes


National Signing Day has come and gone, the Mike Smith Era began in earnest, and the men's basketball team has run its winning streak to five games, its longest win streak since the 2012-13, when the Rebels won the SEC Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff won some and lost some on National Signing Day, as they put together a 22-member class, ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation (247Sports.com), and as low as No. 21 in the nation (RIvals.com). The class included 18 players rated a four-star prospect or higher by at least one recruiting service, the most in program history, including offensive lineman Javon Patterson and wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge, the seventh and eighth five-star prospect signed under Freeze

"You lose some battles when you are battling for some of the nation's best," Freeze said. "Every school does. We had a few of those, but we also won many, many battles for kids who really wanted to be at Ole Miss and this program representing this great university. I'm excited to get to work with them."

- Among the battles won were the last three players signed in Lodge, who announced his college decision live on ESPNU, choosing the Rebels over Texas and Texas A&M, defensive lineman Austrian Robinson, who chose them over Maryland, and wide receiver Van Jefferson, the son of 13-year NFL veteran Shawn Jefferson, who chose them over Georgia, Michigan and Oklahoma, as well as linebacker Shawn Curtis, who flipped his commitment from Pittsburgh.

- Speaking to some of the recruiting battles lost, Freeze said he and his staff will revisit the entire recruiting process, including allowing commitments to take other visits, gong through every kid on their board and talking about the outcome, the good and the bad, why it did not their way in the end, and could they have done anything different. On a related note, looking ahead to 2016, Freeze said of addressing needs on the offensive line, defensive line and linebacker with mid-year signees, whether it's JUCO or high school players.

- One of the more underrated aspects of the 2015 signing class are the five mid-year enrollees, a group that includes the top junior college quarterback (Chad Kelly), defensive lineman (D.J. Jones) and cornerback (Tony Bridges). All three players, as well as junior college linebacker Terry Caldwell and early enrollee Javon Patterson are expected to feature prominently in spring practice and push for playing time come the fall.

- In case you missed it, here's a National Signing Day link roundup of videos and stories related to the signing class as a whole and videos and stories related to individual signees.

- The men's basketball team extended its winning streak to five games, defeating Texas A&M 69-59 Wednesday night, its third top-50 RPI win of the season, and then going on the road and defeating Auburn 86-79, moving to 3-2 in SEC road games this season. With the wins, the Rebels remain in a three-way tie for second place in the SEC standings and moved up to No. 37 in the latest RPI rankings released by the NCAA.

- The story against Texas A&M was a locked-in defensive effort, holding the Aggies' two leading scorers, Jalen Jones and Danuel House, to a combined 14 points on 5-of-19 shooting, and two key 3-point plays by LaDarius White and M.J. Rhett to push the lead to 59-50 with 6:26 left.

- LaDarius White led the way with 20 points, making big play after big play, but it was a team effort throughout the lineup, as five Rebels finished in double figures in the win over Auburn. The nation's top free-throw shooting team, the Rebels closed out the game from the line, going 10-of-12 in the final 1:28 to finish 28-of-38 for the game.

"Ole Miss is really comfortable with their nine players," Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. "That's what makes them a really good and a contender is that they don't drop off at all when they go to their bench."

- Watching the Ole Miss-Auburn game on television, you could sense the energy in Auburn Arena, whether it was the memories of the Marshall Henderson jersey-pop, or the culture change under first-year head coach Bruce Pearl. The Pavilion at Ole Miss, set to open next season, will have a similar design and capacity, so fans watching the game got a taste of what the game day atmosphere might be like next season.

- Looking ahead, the Rebels have their first of two Thursday-Saturday swings, traveling to Florida on Thursday and playing host to Arkansas on Saturday. The Gators are ranked No. 67 in the latest RPI rankings and No. 35 in the latest KenPom.com ratings, while the Razorbacks are ranked No. 25 in the RPI and No. 31 in KenPom.

- The women's basketball team, looking for its first win at Vanderbilt since Jan. 8, 1987, led for 27:00, leading by as many as 16 early in the second half, but the Rebels were unable to overcome 42 second-half points from the Commodores in a 58-54 loss on Thursday night.

- Ole Miss, now 14-9 overall and 4-6 in SEC play, has six regular season remaining, starting with a home game against No. 6 Tennessee on Thursday. Head coach Matt Insell has said his team likely needs to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration, so the Rebels likely need at least a split of the final six regular season games.

- The Ole Miss softball team kicked off the Mike Smith Era with six games in four days at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, going 3-3 with wins over San Jose State, Fresno State and Western Michigan. The Rebels are on the road for five games in three days next weekend, before returning home for the Red and Blue Classic (Feb. 20-22), playing host to UT-Martin, Nebraska-Omaha, Southern Illinois and Middle Tennessee State.

- The Ole Miss baseball team opens the 2015 season next weekend with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting with the series opener Friday at 4 p.m. The Ole Miss baseball preseason press conference is set for Monday, so stay tuned for more coverage leading up to the season opener.

- The No. 24 ranked Ole Miss women's tennis picked up a pair of road wins, defeating No. 29 Texas Tech and No. 32 Rice. The Rebels return home for each of their next three matches, starting with Tulane on Friday (2 p.m.), before opening SEC play on Friday, Feb. 27 with a road match at Kentucky.

- The No. 19 ranked Ole Miss men's tennis team was off this past weekend, returning to action Monday for its home opener against Troy, before traveling to Chicago for the ITA National Team Indoor (Feb. 13-16).

Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for the start of their seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:

- Selection Sunday is more than a month away, but in a battle of teams on the fringe of the NCAA Tournament discussion, the Ole Miss men's basketball team downed Florida 72-71 on Saturday. Going into the matchup, ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi tweeted, "The loser here is pretty much toast from an NCAA tournament perspective." 

- Through six SEC games, Ole Miss is 3-3, having played six of the top eight teams from the league, according to KenPom.com. The Rebels, themselves, are the third-highest rated team (No. 34). Looking ahead, return trips at home against Arkansas and Georgia and a road game LSU loom large for the team's NCAA Tournament chances.

"It's good for our confidence," said head coach Andy Kennedy of the win. "We're not as confident of a group as I would have hoped despite some of our early wins that show we are a good basketball team. You have to be able to stack wins at this time of the year. It was obviously a vital game for us."

- Preseason All-SEC first team selection Jarvis Summers proved clutch for the Rebels, scoring each of the team's last four points, the first two on a step-back jumper from just inside the 3-point line and the last two on a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds left after driving into the lane.

"Coach (Kennedy) always tells me to go right," Summers said. "That's my strength. I just listened to him this game and tried to make a play." 

- In a similar situation, tied 77-77 on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, Summers settled for a contested 3-pointer, which was off the mark, and the Wildcats went on to win 89-86 in overtime. That was not the case Saturday against Florida.

"I beat myself up after that game," Summers said. "I just had to move forward. I told myself if I ever got in that situation again, I was going to keep going to the hole and be aggressive." 

- Here's a good read on Stefan Moody from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger. Check it out.

- Playing its third straight opponent ranked opponent, Ole Miss came up just short, falling to Mississippi State 64-62 on a last-second shot on Thursday night. Ole Miss went 1-2 over the three-game stretch, knocking off Georgia and losing to Texas A&M and Mississippi State by a combined 11 points. The Rebels are 14-6 overall, 4-3 in SEC play, likely needing to get to at least eight SEC wins to garner NCAA Tournament consideration.

- The result was not what head coach Matt Insell and the team wanted, but a lively crowd of 3,383 provided one of the better, if not the best, atmospheres I have experienced in five-plus years around the women's basketball program. Insell has tirelessly promoted his program, including going door-to-door on Fraternity Row the night before the Mississippi State game, and it showed Thursday.

"First, I want to thank Rebel Nation," Insell said. "What a great crowd that was. I think Oxford, Mississippi and Rebel Nation just really showed up for us tonight. They showed us how much they cared about this basketball game. The crowd was into the game the entire time. I just want to thank everyone that came."

- A lot has been written and said about The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Here's an infographic comparing it to Tad Smith Coliseum. Notice the concessions in the bottom right corner that includes the addition of Raising Cane's to the menu.

- The Ole Miss baseball team held its first spring practice on Friday and its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday. Here's a pretty thorough preview from Kendall Rogers on the Rebels, which are ranked No. 18 in the D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25 rankings. Don't forget, Ole Miss opens the 2015 season with a three-game home series against William & Mary, starting Friday, Feb. 13 at 4 p.m C.T.

- The lowest-ranked team in its four-team regional in Gainesville, Florida, the Ole Miss men's tennis team notched two big wins over No. 13 Florida and No. 29 South Carolina. The Rebels rallied from down 3-0 to defeat the Gators 4-3 and closed out the weekend with a 4-2 win over the Gamecocks to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Final 16.

- The men's tennis team was bolstered by the return of senior Nik Scholtz, a three-time All-American and the reigning SEC Player of the Year. Unranked because he did not play in the fall, Scholtz defeated the 34th-ranked and 71st-ranked players this past weekend. For more on Scholtz and his decision to return to Ole Miss for his senior season, click here.

- Former Ole Miss players Cody Prewitt and Senquez Golson showed out at the Senior Bowl this week. They impressed coaches, scouts and media members, among others. Next up is the NFL Scouting Combine (Feb. 17-23). For more on their week at the Senior Bowl, click here and here.

- Another former Rebel, the New England Patriots' Brandon Bolden, will be playing in the Super Bowl next Sunday (5:30 p.m. CT, NBC). I caught up with Bolden earlier this week, so look for more on him in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

- In case you missed it, with the start of classes, the Ole Miss football has been updated to reflect six mid-year additions, including freshman offensive lineman Javon Patterson, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection from Pearl, Mississippi. Looking ahead, National Signing Day (Feb. 4) is a week and a half away, so stay tuned.

- In case you missed it, part two, the Ole Miss football video department released a couple of videos over the weekend: "Home is Ole Miss" and "The Journey: Chapter 3."

On the transition as new hitting coach:

The transition has been really good. The coaching staff has made it a lot easier on me than what it could be. It's definitely been a whirlwind.

On what he knew about Ole Miss before taking the job:

I definitely had a lot of respect from afar for Coach Bianco and his program. I knew more than I thought I would because Ben Fleming, the strength and conditioning coach, was with me at Kansas State and we overlapped by a year for the 2013 season, and I kept in touch with him, so it was nice to know him through the process. Mike Bianco's work speaks for itself with 14 years and what he's done, continuing to build and getting to Omaha last year. I got to see them play quite a few times. They were a lot of fun to watch and played with a blue-collar mentality and a chip on their shoulder, and that's something I want to be a part of.

On what he looks to add and what he brings from his previous coaching experience:

It's a good fit because I pride myself on the mentality part of coaching. I want a bunch of guys who are going to blue collar and play with a chip on their shoulder, really play the game and outwork their opponent. I pride myself on that as a coach, and I hope our offense is going to pride themselves on that as well. I bring that dynamic to the staff. We have a bunch of good players and a bunch of good recruits, and I feel really good about where the program is right now.

On the reception on the road from fans and recruits:

Things are different when you put the script "Ole Miss" across your chest. That's no disrespect to Kansas State. I was in Atlanta last week recruiting, and I had to call back to the office and ask Andrew Case, our director of operations, what Hotty Toddy meant because I got six or eight Hotty Toddy's the first day I had the shirt on. To be honest, I wasn't sure what they were saying, if they cursing at me, or they were happy, or what they were, so I had to get an education on that. The response has been unbelievable. It's been overwhelmingly positive. People have been very supportive around town for the little bit that I have been here. It's really exciting to get going. It's going to be a great experience for my wife and I.

On summer workouts and talking to current players about the upcoming season:

I have talked to them quite a bit. I have been able to reach out to quite a few of our position players, especially the older guys. The coaching staff and the returning players are really excited about hopefully taking that next step. We want to be the last team standing in Omaha, not one of the last four teams. That's our goal, and that's the goal for a lot of teams, especially in this league. It's a dogfight, and you can't get to that goal without doing your job in the summer and fall. It's an exciting time, and the confidence is at an all-time high, probably, for his program, and that can be attributed to last year's team.

On what's needed to take Ole Miss to the next level:

We're on the right track. We're in a very good spot. It goes back to recruiting and getting the most talented players that you can find. But more so than the talent part of it, the best teams are the teams who can match the talent part of it with guys who are willing to give up a little something of themselves for something greater. That's why it was fun to watch Ole Miss baseball from afar because you could tell it was team and those guys loved playing with one another. If we can keep on that track, the sky is the limit, not only for this team this year, but the program and the future.

On being a former catcher on staff with two other former catchers in Mike Bianco and Carl Lafferty:

When you're a catcher, you're at the only position on the field, where everyone is looking to you. That's important. You're supposed to be a leader. I was not an elite baseball player. I was a pretty average player, and that's OK. One of the good things about that was I had to work pretty hard for everything I got and that helped me in my coaching career. They would say the same thing about being a former catcher. If you look around at the managers in the major leagues and minor leagues, there are a lot of former catchers because of the responsibility placed on that position.

On his younger brother, Jeff, and what he has learned from him and his major league baseball experience:

He's my best friend and we talk a couple of times a week. He had a whole different experience than what I did as an average player. He saw the other end of the spectrum. We talk often and he has a perspective of the Stephen Head's and Seth Smith's of the world, those types of people. He had an unbelievable college career, and he was an All-American and a high draft pick, and he was fortunate and blessed enough to play in the big leagues for parts of four seasons. He provides some valuable advice from his experience, but more than anything, he's really excited that I have this opportunity.

On his relationship and previous work experience with Ben Fleming:

It's important for me in the transition because I can bounce a lot off of him. The one year we worked together, we had a pretty special year at Kansas State and made it to the Super Regional and had the best year in school history. I trust his opinion. He's relentless in the way he works with kids. Coach Bianco really values him and what he does. It's good to have some familiarity with someone in this program getting here. I can't help but have a good relationship with Carl Lafferty. It didn't take long to build that because we were the two guys out on the road and recruiting.

On recruiting and how Carl Lafferty has helped in the transition:

It's a tough transition when you go from one part of the country to another part of the country and trying to land on your feet and hit the ground running. What's made it an easy transition is Carl. He's very gifted on the road. He has an unbelievable ability to know players and know everything about them. He knows who they are, who they play for, and where they're from. When you have someone as gifted as Carl is from a recruiting standpoint, it makes the transition a lot easier, that's for sure.

On the plan for the rest of the summer and preparation for fall practice:

The important thing, as we move forward before school starts, is to build relationships with players. That's what I believe most of coaching is. If I can start to build relationships and get these guys to trust me and what I'm all about and help them understand that I'm willing to work with them, everything will take off from there. I'm confident that will happen. Outside of recruiting, which is the life blood of the program, I want to build relationships with our current players and hit the ground running once school starts in late August.

On what fans should expect from the offense:

We want be aggressive in a lot of different ways. It can be driving the ball out of the yard, driving the ball in the gaps and stealing bases. I want to be really sound in every aspect of our offense, whether that's the ability to hit and run, steal bases and get down bunts. We want to hit the ball in the gaps because if you can do that, balls will go out of the yard and you will be able to do some things offensively. We're going to be uptempo and really aggressive and take the fight to the other team from the offensive side of things.

On the new ball and how it changes the game:

I don't know if it will change my philosophy as a hitting coach, but it will change the game. I trust what the NCAA is doing and there needed to be a change. I think the new ball is going to make a difference. Hopefully, in our ballpark, it makes the difference with a lot more beer showers for our team.

Former Ole Miss player Zack Cozart, now a member of the Cincinnati Reds, was named the best defensive shortstop in baseball for the first half of the 2014 season. ESPN Insider Scott Spratt selected one player from either league at each position.

Here is what Spratt had to say about Cozart:

"Cozart is the hottest fielder in the sport. He has saved 12 runs since the start of June, the most in baseball over that time frame. He has increased his overall Runs Saved total to 17, tied for second-most at any position. Where Pedroia stands out by making unexpected plays, Cozart excels by rarely making mistakes. He has just 10 Defensive Misplays/Errors (DMEs) in 757 innings, which is the lowest rate among middle infielders with a minimum of 400 innings this season."

Here's a sampling of Cozart's glove work in the first half of the 2014 season:


For ESPN Insider subscribers, here's the link to the full article: First-half Defensive All-Stars

'It Won't Fade Away'

OMAHA, Neb. -- The long and winding road reached its end Saturday, as Ole Miss was eliminated from the College World Series with a 4-1 loss to Virginia, two wins shy of reaching the National Championship Series. 

"It was the best team I have ever played on," senior co-captain Will Allen said. "All the teams in the country except one are going to finish up with a loss. Unfortunately, we did that. If you're going to end on a loss, you might as well do it in Omaha. We ran into a really good team and fought until the end."

But what a run. 

Picked to finish sixth in the SEC West, the 2014 Rebels exceeded all expectations, except perhaps their own, as they matched the 2005 team with a school-record 48 wins and became just the second team in school history to win two games at the College World Series, joining the 1956 team.

"You don't want to ever to come up short, especially when you're this close to winning the national championship, but this is a special group of guys, a special group of older guys," head coach Mike Bianco said. "They provided great leadership and were such great mentors to the younger group that is so talented. 

"It's sad that it ends but more importantly sad because these 35 guys that wore the uniform this year for Ole Miss were such great representatives of the university and will go down as the best team that ever played Ole Miss and we won't ever be together again. That's what makes it sad."

After near misses in recent Super Regionals, this was the team that broke through and advanced to Omaha and the College World Series for the fifth time in school history and the first time since 1972. 

"It was a great run," Allen said. "We played really well throughout the season just to get to Omaha. Not many people do that. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm glad that I got to play here and had the opportunity to play with this team. We had a great team this year. I'm proud of the way we finished."

Allen and senior co-captain Austin Anderson leave behind a lasting legacy, as do their fellow senior and the other members of the 2014 team who may have played their last games in an Ole Miss uniform.

"They had been through a lot the last few years," Bianco said. "They stuck together and trusted myself and the coaches and the system and what we do. They were great mentors to a very talented younger group and they deserve all of this. I know it won't fade away. They are more deserving than any group I can remember."

OMAHA, Neb. -- Through two games at the College World Series, Ole Miss has just six hits in 57 at-bats and scored three runs. 

Part of the offensive outage has been expansive TD Ameritrade Park, part of it has been the howling wind that has been blowing in from center field and part of it has been two terrific pitching performances from Virginia's Nathan Kirby and Texas Tech's Ryan Moseley.

Besides Vanderbilt, which has scored a combined 11 runs in wins over Louisville and UC Irvine, no team has scored more than five runs in Omaha, as all eight teams have combined to average just 2.7 runs through eight games.

"We knew it was big, but we have been having a hurricane coming in straight from center field, so it's been tough," said junior first baseman Sikes Orvis, who is second in the Southeastern Conference and seventh nationally with 14 home runs on the season.

"Personally, it's knocking me off my game a little bit. When I get in hitter's counts, I usually try to pull something or drive something, but if I do that, it's just going to get knocked down, so I have been trying to go the other way and hit line drives. We'll adjust. Everybody has to deal with this; it's not just us. It's made for a lot of low-scoring games, so I'm sure the fans are ready for some offense."

The park and the wind has been good for pitchers, particularly for those who have filled up the strike zone, as junior right-hander Sam Smith looks to do in his start Thursday against TCU. As a pitching staff, Ole Miss has allowed just three runs on 15 hits with six walks and 11 strikeouts over 17.2 innings in Omaha.

"Use the ballpark to your advantage and fill up the zone," Smith said. "Guys are going to hit balls hard, but somehow they get caught in the wind. We have a really fast outfield, so they get caught a lot of times."

Same Spot, Different Week for Smith

Like sophomore left-hander Christian Trent, who has helped extend the Rebels' season in each of his last two starts, junior right-hander Sam Smith looks to do the same for the second straight week in Thursday's elimination game against TCU.

Smith has not pitched past the fifth inning in each of his last two starts, but he has given his team an opportunity, limiting Washington to two runs (both unearned) on six hits through 4.2 innings, and limiting Louisiana-Lafayette to three runs (two unearned) on six hits through 3.2 innings.

It has been a nice bounce-back for Smith after a tough stretch of outings against Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Arkansas again at the SEC Tournament. 

"He's a guy who always gives us an opportunity to win," head coach Mike Bianco said. "It seems like he always goes out there and does a great job for us. Sometimes it's in the middle innings but that's because the game that he pitches is so important. 

"When he pitches on Sunday, that's usually to win the weekend. And depending on how much we have in the bullpen, sometimes we make the move in the fourth, fifth or sixth inning. He's been great for us in this role."

Earlier this season, Smith had another stretch of eight quality starts, but if he's not able to pitch deep, he will have a fresh bullpen behind him, thanks to a light workload through two games and the day off Wednesday.

"We had a healthy bullpen my last few starts, so coach had no hesitation to take me out and get someone else in," Smith said. "We have a lot of guys in the bullpen who are capable. My mindset is to go as far and as hard as I can to give us a shot to win."

More Familiarity than Rivalry

For Ole Miss and TCU, it's their ninth meeting in three years and their fourth meeting in the NCAA Tournament.

The schools played twice in the regular season in 2012, splitting the games in Fort Worth, Texas. 

They met again in the 2012 NCAA College Station Regional, with Ole Miss winning the opening game, and then TCU winning two elimination games to advance to the Super Regional. 

They met once again to open the 2013 season with Ole Miss sweeping the three-game weekend series in Oxford.

"We played them in the regional my freshman year, and then we opened up with them last year, and now we're playing them again, so we can't seem to get away from these guys," junior first baseman Sikes Orvis said. "It's exciting. You see guys who were freshmen when you were a freshman, and you see them grow and get older. It's cool. We have built a little rivalry, so it will be cool to play them on this stage."

There's also familiarity between Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco and TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle from when Bianco was an assistant coach at LSU (1993-97) and Schlossnagle was associate head coach at Tulane (1994-2001). 

Their relationship has continued over the years, including the 2013 summer with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, where Bianco was the pitching coach and Schlossnagle was the head coach.

"We have played them through the years," head coach Mike Bianco said. "You play them a lot in postseason because they're very good. It's certainly a team that we have a tremendous amount of respect for. It's a team that can really pitch. The difference this year for them is they're more offensive than they have been in the last couple of years."

More on TD Ameritrade Park Debate: Why is it so difficult to score runs at the CWS?, writes Jon Nyatawa from the Omaha World-Herald


 

OMAHA, Neb. -- Ole Miss has scored three runs over its first two games at the College World Series. All three came in pinch-hitting opportunities. 

The first was an RBI groundout from sophomore Holt Perdzock in Sunday's 2-1 loss to Virginia. The second and third came from Perdzock and senior John Gatlin, the latter of which lifted the Rebels to a 2-1 win over Texas Tech in walk-off fashion.

"Yeah, we've done that throughout the entire season," Gatlin said. "One through 27 contributes each week in some form or fashion. And Coach Bianco does a great job making sure late in the game when it's getting tight like that, be swinging, get your legs loose and be ready to go. Like I said, we're expected to get it done, and we've been pretty successful at it."

Perdzock delivered the big hit in a 10-4 win over Louisiana-Lafayette to send Ole Miss to the College World Series, as he cleared the bases with a double to right to score two run while a fielding error allowed a third run to score. Against Texas Tech, his two-out, RBI single in the seventh looked to be game-winning run before the Red Raiders tied the game in the ninth.

He has perfected his role as a pinch-hitter this season with 12 hits in 35 at-bats with six RBI, including three hits in five at-bats with four RBI in the NCAA Tournament.

"I have been doing it all year, so I'm used to it," Perdzock said. "I try to stay clam and do what I do. When I was up there, I tried to hit one the other way because the ball was tailing a little bit. He ended up throwing it, but it sneaked through, so I'm happy about it."

For Gatlin, it was his second walk-off hit of the season. He lifted Ole Miss to a 4-3 win over UCF in 13 innings back on Feb. 28, but Tuesday's walk-off takes on a special meaning, not only because of the stage in the College World Series but also the recent passing of his grandmother.

"You saw he was tearing up afterwards," fellow senior Will Allen said. "That's every kid's dream, to hit a walk-off in Omaha. He did it. He's been a huge part of this on the bench and in the locker room. I was proud for him."

"I wouldn't think of anything else that she could be more proud of," said Gatlin of his deceased grandmother. "And Coach (Cliff) Godwin asked me if I needed to go home. And I said, 'Are you kidding me? She'd kill me if I came home right now.' But, yeah, game's on the line like that, so much going through your head, she was definitely part of it."

Trent Answers The Bell For Rebels

OMAHA, Neb. -- With runs at a premium at cavernous TD Ameritrade Park, every pitch takes on added importance, and you could feel it with sophomore left-hander Christian Trent, as he kept making pitches to get out of innings.

Looking to match Bobby Wahl's perfect 10-0 mark from last season, he took an unlucky no-decision, but he went eight strong innings to help set up a dramatic 2-1 walk-off win over Texas Tech.

"He's done that all year long," head coach Mike Bianco said. "He's undefeated. He hasn't had a bad outing all year long even in the games he hasn't won. He's gotten no-decisions. He's been terrific. Our guys have that confidence. Even though we lose the first game, I don't know if there's another better guy in the country to run out there in game two than Christian."

"It's another awesome performance by him," senior catcher Will Allen said. "He did a great job, especially with the offense taking a while to get going and scoring him some runs. Staying out there for as long as he did and really keeping them off-balance. Even when they got on base, he shut it down. We got a couple of clutch double plays that helped out. He's done that all year. He's like a second ace out there. He's very composed and very competitive and just goes about his business."

Trent credited his fastball command and making good use of his slider and changeup, as he scattered six hits with one walk and six strikeouts over eight innings. He was especially dominant with runners on base, stranding six runners on the base paths and holding Texas Tech hitless with runners on base (0-for-12) and runners in scoring position (0-for-6).

"It's more of a mindset that you have to lock things down when they get runners on, especially in scoring position," Trent said. "It's time to make the pitches and focus a lot harder on what you're doing. It's a little bit of a tighter window when you're throwing into the glove, and I just felt like I was able to use all three pitches, like I said, when I needed to. I think it worked out well for me."

With eight shutout innings against Texas Tech, he has allowed just two runs -- one earned -- on 15 hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts over 21.1 innings in NCAA Tournament play.

OMAHA, Neb. -- Head football coach Hugh Freeze and head men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy, two former baseball players in their own right, were among the Ole Miss fans in attendance for Tuesday's College World Series game against Texas Tech.

"Watching it on TV the other night, it seemed like our Rebels showed up," Freeze said. "Getting to see it live, my assumptions were correct. Our fans have traveled well again, as they always do. They're so supportive of everything we do. The atmosphere is great."

In his 14th season at Ole Miss, head baseball coach Mike Bianco is the dean of coaches among the big-three sports, with Freeze entering his third season and Kennedy entering his ninth season.

"Mike's the dean of us, most especially, having been here a number of years," Kennedy said. "For him to take that next step and get to Omaha, to me, when I was watching the game against (Louisiana)-Lafayette, it felt like I was playing. I'm thinking to myself, 'This is too stressful. I'm supposed to be just watching the game.' I was really pulling for Mike and I was really proud for him and for his team."

"When you see somebody who has gotten so close and then does that, you certainly want to rejoice, particularly when he's part of our family," Freeze said.

Like they share in the success of Bianco and the baseball team, they also share in the benefits of Ole Miss playing on one of the biggest stages in college athletics: The College World Series.

"Any time you can get our university, our brand on the national stage, it is helpful to all of us," Freeze said. "The job that Mike, his staff and his team have done, we're indebted to them because it certainly helps the whole university and every program we have in athletics."

OMAHA, Neb. --Ole Miss faced the same situation just eight days ago: Win or go home. 

And like game two of the super regional against UL Lafayette, sophomore left-hander Christian Trent will get the ball looking to give his team an opportunity extend their season.

"He's been the guy all year in that No. 2 spot," head coach Mike Bianco said. "You feel good with him obviously. He's undefeated and he's a guy who's always answered the bell in that Saturday game, where either you needed to win the series, or after a tough Friday night loss the guy who's been able to give us a great opportunity to get back into it. He's the right man for the job for sure."

Trent is 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA in 102.0 innings entering Tuesday's elimination game against Texas Tech. In that game against UL Lafayette, Trent allowed only an unearned run on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts through 7.0 innings of work, as the Rebels won 5-2.

"It's like another ace," senior catcher Will Allen said. "He's unbelievable. He's done a great job the whole year. You see in those big games he steps up and brings it. He was lights out at ULL and that's one of the best offenses in the country. That gives us a tremendous chance to win because we know that he's going to hold them pretty good for the majority of the game."

He is expected to start opposite left-hander Dylan Dusek, a Freshman All-American selection for the Red Raiders. Dusek is 8-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 74.1 innings pitched. 

Dusek also carries a 23.2 scoreless innings streak dating back to April 27 against Oklahoma, which included 8.0 scoreless against Miami (Fla.) and 5.0 scoreless against College of Charleston in the NCAA Tournament.

Virginia pitching held Ole Miss to one run on one hit, its lowest hit total of the season. The Rebels had just four base runners, manufacturing its only run on back-to-back walks, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout. 

"We try to concentrate on doing what we do," Bianco said. "That doesn't mean that we won't tweak a few things. We're going to be aggressive and try to make things happen. We tried to do that last night, but we just didn't have any base runners. We tried to hit and run and got a terrible pitch for Preston (Overbey). We didn't have a lot of opportunities. Hopefully, we'll have a lot more opportunities on Tuesday."

"We need to be aggressive and keep doing what we have been doing the whole year," Allen said. "We're a really good team and we're a really good offense, but we ran into a good pitcher, who kept us off balance last night... We hit some balls hard right at people. That's baseball. We have to keep doing what we have been doing the whole year. We're a tough team. We have bounced back before."

Allen said they remain a loose, relaxed group and are ready to get back after it on Tuesday against Texas Tech. Bianco shares a similar confidence in the Rebels.

"I would be very surprised if they haven't been like they have been all year," Bianco said. "They have always answered the bell."

More on Texas Tech probable starting pitcher Dylan Dusek: Dusek already survived to advance, writes Mitch Sherman from ESPN.com

 


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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