Wyatt Short (center) and Errol Robinson (right) are two preseason All-Americans who look to lead Ole Miss this season
Feb. 18, 2016
Date: Feb. 19-21, 2016
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Swayze Field
Television: SEC Network+
Will Kollmeyer, play-by-play
David Dellucci, analyst
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network
David Kellum (Fri., Sun.)/Eli Savoie (Sat.), play-by-play
Keith Kessinger, analyst
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Series: Ole Miss leads 3-0
Last Series: March 1-3, 2013
Ole Miss won 3-0
Friday, February 19: 1,000 Schedule Magnets and Errol Robinson Poster Giveaway
Saturday, February 20: Colby Bortles Poster Giveaway
Sunday, February 22: J.B. Woodman Poster Giveaway, Kids run the bases post game presented by Belles and Beaus
- Ole Miss is 14-1 in season openers under head coach Mike Bianco
- The Rebels have won 11 season-opening weekend series during the Bianco era
- Opening weekend kicks off an eight-game homestand to begin the 2016 season
- All home games this season will be televised on either ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network or SEC Network+
- Ole Miss ranked second in the nation in attendance in 2015, averaging 8,066 fans per game for a total attendance of 225,873
- The Rebels are the only 2015 NCAA Tournament team to face two fellow tournament teams in the first two weekend series of the season
- Shortstop Errol Robinson was tabbed preseason All-America by Baseball America and D1Baseball.com
- Junior Wyatt Short was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List
- The Rebels return seven position starters from last year's team
- Ole Miss swept FIU in the only other series between the two teams; in 2013, the Rebels outscored the Panthers a combined 27-13 in the three game road series
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
FRIDAY, 4 P.M.
FIU - Andres Nunez, So., RHP, 6-6, 3.99 ERA (2015 Stats)
Ole Miss - Brady Bramlett, R-Jr., RHP, 7-4, 3.74 ERA (2015 Stats)
- Made all 15 starts last season after missing all of 2014 due to injury
- Led the team with 83 strikeouts in 2015
- Serves as the vice-chair of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)
- Sings in the university choir
- Serves as the president of Ole Miss SAAC
SATURDAY, 1:30 P.M.
FIU - Chris Mourelle, Jr., RHP, 7-7, 3.07 ERA (2015 Stats)
Ole Miss - Chad Smith, Jr., RHP
- Selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 23rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft
- Named of the top 150 MLB Draft prospects by Perfect Game
- Junior college transfer from Wallace State C.C.
- Struck out 42 over 35.0 innings as a sophomore at Wallace State
- Grandson of Norm Zauchin, who played for the Boston Red Sox
SUNDAY, 12 P.M.
FIU - Garrett Cave, So., RHP, 0-1, 5.06 ERA (2015 Stats)
Ole Miss - Sean Johnson, R-Jr., RHP, 0.00 ERA (2015 Stats)
- Expected to be a starter in 2015, but pitched just one inning last year (opening weekend) before suffering an injury
- Coming off Tommy John surgery
- Named to the 2015 SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll
- In 2014, went 10-1 with 88 strikeouts and 16 walks over 75.0 innings to lead Iowa Western Community College to a national championship
- Loved playing hockey growing up
A LOOK AT FIU
FIU enters 2016 looking build off the momentum gained at the end of the season, which resulted in an NCAA Regional appearance. Despite the Panthers finishing 30-31 last season, including 13-17 in conference play, they earned a regional berth after winning the Conference USA Tournament as the eight seed. All three of FIU's weekend starting pitchers are back this season; Cody Crouse (5-6, 4.13 ERA), Chris Mourelle (7-7, 3.07 ERA) and Andres Nunez (6-6. 3.99 ERA) combined to make 47 starts on the mound in 2015. However, an elbow injury has sidelined Crouse to start the season. Ole Miss swept the Panthers in the only previous series between the two teams. In 2013, the Rebels won all three games in Miami, outscoring FIU by a combined 27-13 margin.
The Rebels return 16 players from last season's team, including seven starting position players (DH included). First or second-year players took 70.9 percent of the team's at-bats throughout the 2015 season, and nearly all of them are back for the 2016 campaign. Ole Miss also welcomes 16 newcomers, featuring 13 freshmen and three junior college transfers. One of the young Rebels that was relied upon as a leader in 2015 was Errol Robinson, a fan favorite who is back for his third year as the Rebels' starting shortstop. Five other starters in the field return for Ole Miss, including all three outfielders: seniors Connor Cloyd and Cameron Dishon as well as junior J.B. Woodman. Third baseman Colby Bortles is back at the hot corner and will provide power in the middle of the Ole Miss lineup. The Oviedo, Florida native belted 11 doubles and seven home runs to go along with 47 RBI in 2015. After a superb freshman season in which he hit .290, Will Golsan will look to build off his debut season. Tate Blackman and Kyle Watson combined for 74 starts a season ago, and the pair of sophomores have a chance to crack the lineup once again.
Team captains for this season's team are: junior third baseman Colby Bortles, senior pitcher Matt Denny and junior outfielder J.B. Woodman. The captains were selected from a vote by the team.
Ole Miss has enjoyed success in season-opening games under head coach Mike Bianco, posting a 14-1 record in games to open the season over the past 15 years. The Rebels' lone loss on opening day came at the hands of ULM to open the 2010 season when Ole Miss fell 6-5 to the Warhawks in Oxford.
CLAIMING THE FIRST SERIES
The Rebels have fared well in season-opening weekends under Bianco with the Rebels claiming series wins in 11 of the last 15 seasons. The Rebels did not play a weekend series to open the 2005, 2007 or 2009 seasons. Those years, the Rebels either opened the year with midweek games or played at a weekend tournament with multiple-teams. The Rebels also had a game rained out in the season-opening weekend of 2012 and split the two games played at TCU to start the year. Last season, Ole Miss took two out of three from William and Mary to begin the 2015 campaign.
BACK TO THE GAUNTLET
Last year, Ole Miss faced the nation's toughest schedule on its way to its 13th NCAA Regional appearance in the past 15 seasons. This season, the Rebels will once again face some of the toughest competition right off the bat. Ole Miss hosts FIU and Louisville, two teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2015. Facing a pair of tournament teams in the first two weekend series of the season is rare. In fact, only seven teams play weekend series against tournament teams to kick off the first two weeks of the season. The Rebels are the only 2015 NCAA Tournament team to face fellow tournament qualifiers.
Teams Facing 2015 NCAA Tournament Teams in First Two Weekend Series
Florida Gulf Coast (Florida, Illinois)
Ole Miss (FIU, Louisville)
Rhode Island (Florida State, Maryland)
Sacramento State (Auburn, LSU)
Stanford (Cal State Fullerton, Texas)
UIC (Texas Southern, Vanderbilt)
Xavier (Arizona State, Mercer)
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Once again, Swayze Field provided the best atmosphere and some of the biggest crowds across the country for college baseball games. Ole Miss finished the 2015 regular season going 19-11 at home and averaging 8,028 fans per game, the second most in the nation. The average attendance was the second-most in program history as 240,849 people walked through the Swayze Field gates in 2015.
BRAMLETT DOES IT ALL
Not only is redshirt-junior Brady Bramlett the Rebels' opening day starter, he also makes a major impact off the field. In January, Bramlett traveled to San Antonio, Texas to represent the Southeastern Conference at the NCAA Convention. He was one of three student-athletes from the SEC who voted on proposed governance rule changes under the NCAA's Division I autonomy process. This was not the first time Bramlett was a voice for his fellow student-athletes. The Bartlett, Tennessee native represents the SEC and serves as the Vice-Chair of the NCAA National Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a representative on the NCAA Strategic Vision and Planning Committee, a subcommittee of the NCAA Division I Council. He is also a representative on the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. Bramlett's busy schedule off the field includes serving as president of the Ole Miss SAAC, singing in the university choir and working towards his degree as a biological science major.
ROBINSON RACKS UP PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Entering the 2016 season, Ole Miss shortstop Errol Robinson said has been tabbed a first team preseason All-America honoree by Baseball America and D1Baseball.com. Major League Baseball scouting directors voted Robinson the nation's top shortstop heading into the 2016 season, and D1Baseball gave him the nod as well. Along with first team All-America recognition, Baseball America also tabbed Robinson as the No. 21 prospect in the country. D1Baseball listed him 28th on its prospect chart, while Perfect Game placed the Rebel shortstop at No. 45. Robinson will begin his junior campaign as the most experienced Rebel on the field with 124 starts at shortstop under his belt. Along with being a career .296 hitter, he has made numerous highlight plays with his glove. Robinson assisted in turning 68 double plays over the past two seasons. Last year, Robinson hit at a .297 clip, collecting a team-high 62 hits. The Boyds, Maryland, native continued his strong sophomore season into the summer, competing in the prestigious Cape Cod Collegiate Summer Baseball League. Posting a .312 batting average as a league all-star, Robinson recorded a team-high 44 hits during the season to lead the Hyannis Harbor Hawks to the CCBL Championship Series.
SHORT NAMED TO STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Ole Miss closer Wyatt Short was named to the preseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Award, given annually to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. The organization also named Short second team NCBWA Preseason All-America. Short is one of 10 players on the watch list that also collected NCBWA Preseason All-America honors. The junior is only one of 15 closers on the list to eclipse double digits in saves last season. A native of Southaven, Mississippi, Short earned the NCBWA accolades after a dominating 2015 season in which he earned All-SEC honors as the Rebels' closer. The southpaw posted a 4-1 record with a 1.38 ERA as a sophomore, striking out 44 hitters over 39.0 innings. He added 10 saves as the team's shutdown reliever, tying for the fifth-most saves in a single season in school history. In just two years, Short has collected 13 saves to sit in a tie with Skipper Wright for sixth in the Ole Miss Baseball record book.
MACMILLAN NAMED VOLUNTEER ASSISTANT COACH
Marc MacMillan, a four-year letterman for the Ole Miss baseball team during the 1990s, was named the Rebels' new volunteer assistant coach during the offseason. MacMillan moved into the new position after serving as the team's director of operations over the past two seasons. MacMillan filled the role left by Stephen Head, a three-time All-American during his playing days (2003-05) and the Rebels' first base coach during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Head recently accepted a job with the Los Angeles Dodgers, serving as an area scout for the Major League Baseball organization. MacMillan spent the past two seasons as the Rebels' director of operations. Prior to returning to Ole Miss, MacMillan was the associate head coach at the University of Arkansas - Pine Bluff. He spent three years at UAPB, working with the pitchers, infielders and base runners, while also coordinating the program's recruiting efforts plus strength and conditioning programs.
OLE MISS PREDICT TO FINISH FIFTH IN SEC WEST
SEC coaches submitted their season predictions in terms of the conference standings. No. 24 Ole Miss was projected to place fifth in the SEC West after being projected to finish sixth in the last two preseason polls. In those years, the Rebels exceeded conference expectations with a College World Series appearance in 2014 and a NCAA Regional berth last season. No. 1 Florida and No. 3 Texas A&M earned the most votes in their respective divisions. Ten SEC teams are ranked in at least one poll to begin the 2016 season. A total of seven SEC teams qualified for NCAA Regionals in 2015 and conference teams comprised half of the College World Series field. The SEC slate begins March 18 with the Rebels traveling to Tennessee for a weekend series against the Volunteers.
REBELS TABBED FOR 10 NATIONALLY TELEVISED GAMES
Ole Miss will play at least 10 games on national television for the upcoming 2016 season. The Rebels will be featured on SEC Network eight times throughout the season, while also appearing on ESPN2 and ESPNU for one game apiece. People across the country will be able to get a taste of the best atmosphere in college baseball with eight of the 10 nationally televised Ole Miss games airing from Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field, home of the Rebels. In addition, the other 24 homes games not on national television will be available for fans to watch on SEC Network+ and WatchESPN.