Jan. 24, 2014
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss baseball team officially opened spring practice on Friday, as it prepares for the start of the 2014 season on Feb. 14 with the first game in a three-game series at Stetson.
The pitchers began the day in the Manning Center and later rejoined the hitters at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field for a two-hour practice.
“It’s certainly an exciting time,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “Once you get off the field back in early November, you’re anticipating this date, and it’s finally here, and the season is three weeks away.”
Ole Miss is coming off a 38-24 season in which the Rebels advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in the last 13 seasons and gave the program its 18th NCAA Tournament appearance in the history of the program.
The Rebels return six positional players and the team’s regular Sunday starter, junior right-hander Sam Smith, from the 2013 team, to go along with the nation’s eighth-ranked recruiting class according to Baseball America.
“It’s an outstanding recruiting class, and there are a lot of new faces who will make an impact this year, but with that, it’s also a great mix of veterans who have been have had a lot of success here,” Bianco said. “The most exciting thing is how this group has come together as a team and play with a lot of energy.
“This will be a group that will win because they are collectively a good team. There’s not a preseason All-American. There are no returning superstars or high draft picks, but that’s not to say by the end of the year, that won’t happen. This team has been a lot of fun is because of how hard they play and how tough they are.”
Junior Senquez Golson, who played in 12 games with 10 starts at cornerback on the Ole Miss football team this past fall, is also participating in baseball spring practice. Drafted in the eighth round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox, Golson last played for the Ole Miss baseball team in 2012, having appeared in 22 games with 15 starts in the outfield.
“He’s got three weeks to compete for a position,” Bianco said. “If anybody can do it, he can. It takes a special athlete to be able to play two sports, especially not having played baseball in a year and a half. To watch him in the group work over the first couple of days since Jan. 15, he’s looked terrific. He’s what they call a freak. He can do things that the average person can’t.”
Ole Miss continues spring practice with scrimmages on Saturday (11:30 a.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. The Rebels’ home opener is Feb. 19 against Tennessee-Martin, followed by a three-game weekend series against Georgia State (Feb. 21-23).