Hotty Toddy Rebel fans! It is now February and less than two weeks away from Opening Day! On February 18th, the Rebels will open up their season at Swayze Field against Charleston Southern. A three game set with a lower conference opponent is a far cry from the College Baseball Showdown that the Rebels opened up with in Arlington, Texas last season, but the expectations remain the same. Ole Miss is hoping that 2022 is the year they finally break their Omaha drought which stretches back to 2014.
Ole Miss is represented in every major poll, but where they rank is debated. On the low end, Collegiate Baseball ranks Ole Miss as the 19th best team in the nation. On the high end, D1 Baseball ranks Ole Miss at No. 5. Across the other four major polls, the DiamondRebs fall into the 6-11 slot. Clearly this team is a favorite to host regionals and has a great chance at making the College World Series.
The Rebels have a relatively favorable non-conference schedule this year. The biggest matchup will be the first weekend in March, on the road against UCF. As many Rebel fans will remember, Central Florida is the team that broke up the program record win streak last season. The Knights took two out of three against the Mighty Rebs in Oxford and Ole Miss will be looking for some revenge in Orlando this season.
Auburn will play host to the Rebels on St. Patrick’s Day to kick off conference play. The usual suspects (Mississippi State, LSU, and Arkansas) will provide some tough weekends for the Rebels as the season progresses. Out of those powerhouse programs, only Mississippi State will be traveling to Swayze. Throw in road weekends at Kentucky and South Carolina and the SEC schedule provides all the excitement and stress that we have come to expect. This is all in addition to a midweek matchup at a neutral site against Mississippi State (The Governor’s Cup) and a weekend that the Rebels are slated to host one of last year’s premier teams, Tennessee.
All aspects of the schedule considered, Ole Miss should have an easier run than last year. This will become beneficial as the Rebels trot out plenty of young and new pitchers. The Ole Miss offense, with the return of Tim Elko, should be next to impossible for anybody to stop, but the young pitching might run into some trouble during conference play.
One downfall of the easier-than-usual schedule is that there is not a ton of opportunity to avenge tough losses or pick up big wins. Thankfully, Ole Miss starts the season off with a favorable position in five of the six major polls. If Ole Miss just takes care of their own business, they will be set up to host Regionals and maybe even Super Regionals when the summertime comes around.
Now, let’s look at some key factors to get back to Omaha on the next page…