“We’re Done”

Those are two words I sent to my father after Ole Miss lost Gunnar Hogland and 5 out of 6 series in conference play. After a Bianco mismanagement with Hayden Leatherwood in College Station, I was ready to throw the towel in. With Vandy on deck and no momentum, I started thinking about what Lane Kiffin could do with Matt Corral in his second year under his system. I was ready to quit.

Bianco and company had different plans. The Rebels went on to win their last 2 series against Vandy and UGA behind 2 stellar outings from Nikhazy, a Sunday slugfest against Vandy, and a huge Friday night comeback in Athens.

So… what changed?

Tim Elko was reinserted into the lineup which brought a jolt of energy to the team and into Oxford, Mississippi. Elko has hit 7 bombs on 1 ACL, including 2 grand slams in the Oxford Regional. The Captain has been the closest thing to superhuman I have ever seen in my 19 years of watching baseball. Keith, build the statue.

The bullpen. The bullpen? Yes, the bullpen. During the time Ole Miss was struggling, Austin Miller and Josh Malitz were our primary bridge guys to get the ball to Taylor Broadway. Recently, Jack Dougherty, Jackson Kimbrell, Brandon Johnson, and Tyler Myers have all been fantastic coming out of the pen. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Myers gets the ball game 3 in Tucson, if necessary. Ole Miss can hand the ball to any of those 4 relievers with confidence now, something the Rebs struggled with for over 60 percent of the season.

Lastly, Doug Nikhazy. There is not a player in college baseball that means more to his team than Nikhazy means to Ole Miss. He’s answered the bell time and time again this season. After being reinserted into the Friday night role when Hogland went down, he’s been the best pitcher in college baseball. Over his last 4 starts, he’s pitched 27 innings allowing only 6 runs, bringing an energy to Swayze like only he can. When #26 pitches, there isn’t a team in college baseball that is better than Ole Miss.

After losing their ace, their captain, and 5 of 6 SEC series, Ole Miss sits two wins away from Omaha. There is still a long way to go; the job certainly is not finished. However, I am extremely proud of the boys. They have brought me a lot of joy this season.

When I thought I was done, the resilient Rebs were not. Hotty Toddy. See you in Tucson.

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