Coaches pick Ole Miss baseball to finish third in SEC West

Published 4:47 pm Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ole Miss was picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division in the coaches preseason baseball poll released Thursday.

The coaches preseason All-SEC team was also released with Ole Miss closer Dallas Woolfolk earning second-team honors. The junior right-hander tallied 12 saves in a team-high 26 appearances last season, posting a 2.15 earned run average with 41 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings.

The Rebels earned 62 points and received one first-place vote from league coaches. Arkansas was picked to win the West while reigning SEC champion Florida, which was pegged to win the Eastern Division, was picked to repeat as the league champ.

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Arkansas and Texas A&M each got a vote to win the league.

Ole Miss finished sixth in the Western Division last season with a 35-25 overall record and a 14-16 clip in the SEC, failing to make an NCAA regional for the first time since 2011 and just the third time in Mike Bianco’s 17-year tenure. The Rebels are tasked with replacing infield mainstays Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles but return a number of key pieces, including leading hitter Nick Fortes, outfielders Ryan Olenek and Will Golsan and sophomores Grae Kessinger, Cooper Johnson and Thomas Dillard.

Sophomore left-hander Ryan Rolison will headline a rotation that also has junior right-hander James McArthur back. Fourth-year junior Brady Feigl is the most likely candidate to fill it out after making six starts a season ago while Woolfolk will anchor the bullpen.

The complete coaches preseason poll and All-SEC team are below (first-place votes in parentheses).

Eastern Division
1. Florida (13) – 91
2. Kentucky (1) – 74
3. Vanderbilt – 72
4. South Carolina – 50
5. Georgia – 41
6. Missouri – 32
7. Tennessee – 25

Western Division
1. Arkansas (12) – 90
2. Texas A&M (1) – 72
3. Ole Miss (1) – 62
4. LSU – 59
5. Mississippi State – 44
6. Auburn – 38
7. Alabama – 20

Champion: Florida (12), Arkansas (1), Texas A&M (1)

First Team Preseason All-SEC
C: Grant Koch, Arkansas
1B: Julian Infante, Vanderbilt
2B: Cobie Vance, Alabama
SS: Braden Shewmake, Texas A&M
3B: Jonathan India, Florida
OF: Antoine Duplantis, LSU
OF: Tristan Pompey, Kentucky
OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State
DH/UTL: Michael Curry, Georgia
SP: Brady Singer, Florida
SP: Casey Mize, Auburn
RP: Michael Byrne, Florida

Second Team Preseason All-SEC
C: JJ Schwarz, Florida
1B: Kameron Misner, Missouri
2B: Luke Becker, Kentucky
SS: Jax Biggers, Arkansas
3B: George Janca, Texas A&M
OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas
OF: Zach Watson, LSU
OF: Carlos Cortes, South Carolina
DH/UTL: JJ Schwarz, Florida
SP: Sean Hjelle, Kentucky
SP: Blaine Knight, Arkansas
RP: Dallas Woolfolk, Ole Miss