Rebs Baseball Begins Fall Practice Friday
Fall practice begins Friday, Sept. 18
Sept. 15, 2015

OXFORD, Miss. -- Preparation for the "Road to Omaha" begins Friday for the Ole Miss baseball program, as the Rebels kick off fall practices with an intrasquad game at Swayze Field. The friendly contest will be the first practice of fall camp, which runs from Sept. 18 until Nov. 1.

Following a season where the Rebels faced nation's toughest schedule on their way to the 13th NCAA Regional appearance in 15 seasons under head coach Mike Bianco, Ole Miss is ready to get back to business.

"After your last game, you get through camps and recruiting, but you can't wait to get back on the field," said Coach Bianco. "We get to see a lot of new faces, as a result of another terrific recruiting class, and also how the older players have grown."

A veteran cast is back in Oxford for another season. Although the Rebels lost seniors Austin Knight and Sikes Orvis to graduation, seven of the regular nine starters in the lineup return for the 2016 campaign. There are also 17 newcomers ready to take Swayze Field for the first time, including 13 pitchers.

The incoming class is loaded with 13 freshmen; those new faces have been working with Ben Fleming, assistant coordinator of strength and conditioning, to gear up for the start of fall practices. Being healthy and in top physical shape as a team are important attributes for the Rebels heading into the start of offseason practices.

"We have some players coming off of surgery and rehab, but we plan to be pretty much full strength when we start this weekend," Bianco noted. "They have worked very hard, especially the new players. Some were here over the summer working with Coach Fleming and got the pace of his program and expectations. I would say it's been a relatively easy transition."


 

 

While the newcomers and a few returners stayed in Oxford during the summer, most of the veteran Rebels went their separate ways, playing in summer collegiate baseball leagues around the country. Multiple Rebels found success throughout the summer, including five that earned all-star nods in their respective leagues. Whether it was looking to get more action on the field or just simply keep their game sharp and fresh, baseball remained the main focus.

"Some guys maybe didn't get the at-bats at the plate or the innings that they would want on the mound. Some just try to work on things," mentioned Bianco. "We want you to either be playing summer ball or improving your skills here and doing summer school working to graduate."

The 2016 schedule was released Monday, and the Rebels will open up the season at home Feb. 19 versus Florida International. Although the quest for the "Road to Omaha" does not officially begin until February, fall practice is the first step in the process. It is an important time for the newcomers to learn and get acclimated with playing in a successful collegiate baseball program.

"We're just trying to get into our system. We want to get everything that we do from an offensive and defensive standpoint to on the mound. Let the kids learn it in a practice setting rather than a game setting, and also evaluate them," Coach Bianco said. "These next seven weeks are a chance to see the new guys that we haven't seen, and to see the seven returning starters a year stronger, a year older and a year better."

For more information on Ole Miss Baseball, including updated times of fall practices and recaps throughout the fall season, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissBSB and on Facebook at Ole Miss Baseball.

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