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Friday, October 31, 2014

Rebels hopeful despite exclusion from Hoover

COLUMN: It was an different sight to see the Diamond Rebels practicing at Oxford-University Stadium instead of playing at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., on Thursday.

After dropping two of three games at Arkansas last weekend to conclude the regular season, Ole Miss finds itself relegated to playing the wait-and-see game for the first time since the 2002 season.

“I’m excited, slash nervous, slash I don’t know,” senior outfielder Matt Smith said. “I want to be in postseason and I want to play. I haven’t been in this situation since I’ve been here, so it’s definitely a new experience for me.

“I’m just trying to be hopeful and keep my hopes up and hopefully we get in.”

The Rebels received some help while they were on the field in the form of Georgia defeating Auburn 3-2, eliminating the Tigers from the tournament with an overall record of 29-29 that will keep them from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.

More help needed
Ole Miss now needs the Bulldogs to lose either today or tomorrow to further help its cause.

Even if Ole Miss gets more help from Georgia, there’s no guarantee it makes the field of 64.

“I really have no idea,” sophomore infielder Alex Yarbrough said. “Coach (Mike) Bianco went over a lot of different scenarios and stuff about RPI with us. I wish I knew and had a better grasp on it, but we really have no idea.”

Asked if the Rebels were deserving of making the tournament, Bianco paused before answering.

“It’s up to 10 guys. There’s arguments I’m sure for both, in or out. One of the things I’ve said to several people is we could have won one of those games very easily at Arkansas with a play here or a call or whatever. Would that make us that much better of a team? Would that make us any better of a team? I think if we win one of those game we’re in (the SEC Tournament) and we’re in the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “I figure it will probably play out this way when it all comes down to it, the RPI, while not great hovering at 41, they will have to select an at-large team — or several — under us to complete the field. So it’s going to come down to not just RPI, but how they feel with so many teams in the SEC.

“You know all the scenarios with Georgia and Auburn and Arizona State besides all of the automatic winners if the favorites win and so on. Are we one of the best 64 teams in the country? No doubt about it, but it’ll be up to 10 people to decide.”

Understanding criticism
Bianco added that he understands the criticism of fans who expected more from this year’s team.

“I think it’s fair. We didn’t have the year anybody expects of us,” he said. “That’s a disappointment for everybody, including the players, coaches and all the fans. Hopefully we’ll get another chance. Hopefully we’ll get an opportunity on Monday to go somewhere and to start a second season here in post-season.”

With all the different scenarios, and the future out of their hands, the next couple of days won’t prove to be easy on the Rebels.

“The truth is we’d rather be some place else than we are right now,” Bianco said.

Is the team hopeful it will be selected to participate in its ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament?
You bet.

Is it expecting to see “Ole Miss” scroll across the television during Monday’s 11:30 a.m. broadcast of the Division 1 Baseball Selection Show “Road to Omaha” on ESPN?

Well, the Rebels aren’t meeting to watch the selection show with the media for the first time since 2002. (May 27, 2011, Page 6A)

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