Ole Miss baseball opens practice

Ole Miss competed in a scrimmage Friday afternoon and will hit the field again Saturday for the second of two intrasquads this first weekend.

Posted: Jan 25, 2019 6:03 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – A seasoned and hungry mix of Rebels ran onto Swayze Field today for the first official practice of the 2019 year. With exactly three weeks to go before the season kicks off on Feb. 15, the baseball team showcased its stars and allowed fans some of their first glimpses at new Rebels donning the red and navy.

Ole Miss competed in a scrimmage Friday afternoon and will hit the field again Saturday for the second of two intrasquads this first weekend. The Rebels will compete in multiple scrimmages for the next three weekends, all open to fans wishing to attend, as they prepare for their first contest versus Wright State at Oxford-University Stadium in early February.

Head Coach Mike Bianco, as well as sophomores Anthony Servideo and Tim Elko, discussed with the media their offseason progression and their high expectations for the season to come.

"You want to figure out who your best nine are, and right now, that's really hard," Bianco said. "I've been a part of three national championships, and I don't remember a year where we said 'we have too many players, we're just too good.'"

The Rebel skipper may have a strenuous task ahead in trimming his lineup down to nine members. Ole Miss returned seven of its nine starters (each having started 48 or more games) from a season ago, and with returning impact players such as Servideo and Elko exceeding expectations in the offseason, some difficult choices lie ahead for Bianco and his staff.

With so many valued pieces to the club, especially within the infield, multiple Rebels have tried their hands at positions outside of their regular duties. Servideo, Elko, and junior Chase Cockrell, all primary infielders with a powerful bat presence, have been practicing and scrimmaging both around the dirt as well as in the outfield, and Bianco likes what he has seen from his multi-dimensional athletes.

After struggling to see significant time as a freshman, Elko is poised for a breakout year on the diamond, no matter where he ultimately ends up.

"I think I kind of put some pressure on myself freshman year, and this fall I just said I was going to go out and play how I play, and that's what I did," Elko said.

The sophomore finished third among eligible batters in the fall with a .405 batting average and excelled with his summer team. Bianco has commended Elko's ability to fit into the lineup in multiple ways, whether as a corner infielder, corner outfielder, or a DH.

The Rebel coach also discussed junior Thomas Dillard's offseason, one that saw the 2018 team home run leader split time in the outfield as well as at the catcher position. Cooper Johnson is expected to begin the year behind the plate, but Dillard's experience adds significant depth to the catcher position.

In Friday's scrimmage, junior Will Ethridge helped silenced the bats of the blue team and worked the first two innings of a pitcher's duel that would see the red team ultimately win 5-2. Ethridge and fellow junior Houston Roth earned the starts for their respective teams and dominated opposing batters early. Roth too worked just two frames, but recorded five of his six outs by himself, fooling batters with a nasty breaking ball that helped him rack up five strikeouts.

Over the course of the next three weeks, Bianco wants to see his pitchers work efficient innings.

"This is a veteran team, and certainly we want to pitch clean on the mound, and when I say that, throw the ball in the strike zone, stay ahead of hitters against this good offense, be able to manage your two or three innings and get through it," Bianco said.

The Rebels will be signing autographs and meeting their fans at Saturday's Meet the Rebels at the Pavilion before the basketball team takes on nationally-ranked Iowa State in Oxford.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
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