Baseball notes: Ole Miss lands five on All-SEC teams
Published 5:35 pm Monday, May 21, 2018
The Southeastern Conference announced its year-end baseball awards Monday with five Ole Miss players earning recognition.
Ryan Olenek earned first-team All-SEC honors while Nick Fortes and Parker Caracci landed on the second team. Cole Zabowski was named to the All-Defensive Team while Anthony Servideo earned All-Freshman honors.
Freshman Tyler Keenan didn’t land on any teams despite hitting .321 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 36 RBIs as the Rebels’ everyday third baseman. Arkansas’ Casey Martin, who leads all SEC freshmen in average (.349), hits (72) and total bases (119), was the second-team and freshmen-team third baseman while Florida’s Jonathan India, who was also named Player of the Year, earned first-team honors.
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Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan was pegged as Coach of the Year after leading the Gators to the best record in league play (20-10). Florida’s Brady Singer was named Pitcher of the Year while Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad took Freshman of the Year honors.
Olenek finished the regular season leading the SEC in overall average (.373) and average in SEC play (.404). The junior outfielder had a 23-game hitting streak — the third-longest in program history — that ended May 10.
Caracci has 10 saves with a league-leading nine of those coming in SEC games. In his first season as a member of the active roster, the sophomore right-hander has posted a 1.79 earned run average in 40 ⅓ innings with 61 strikeouts. He’s racked up 42 punchouts in 30 ⅓ innings against SEC lineups.
Fortes is hitting .299 with 11 home runs, 49 RBIs and a .525 slugging percentage. Zabowski has committed just four errors at first base for a team that’s on pace to break to school record for fielding percentage while also hitting .318 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs.
Servideo has played in 30 games with 15 starts, hitting .308 in league games while committing just two errors in the middle infield.
A time to celebrate
Fortes said players weren’t aware that Arkansas lost to Georgia on Saturday just as Ole Miss’ series finale at Alabama was entering a two-hour weather delay. Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said he’d like to think that was the case, though word from an umpire may have ended any ignorance.
“The umpire came over after we had made our last out (before the delay) and he goes, ‘Hey, Georgia did you guys a big favor,’” Bianco said. “So of course the rest of the dugout heard after that.”
Arkansas’ loss put Ole Miss in position to win its first SEC West title since 2014 with the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Razorbacks, whom the Rebels took two of three from back in March. Once Ole Miss held off Alabama a few hours later, it became a reality.
The Rebels have had some time to enjoy just the fourth division title in program history before starting the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed on Wednesday at 1 p.m. against either Auburn or Kentucky.
“A nice, relaxed practice (Monday),” Fortes said. “We had a lot of fun enjoying coming out here and being together because this is a time we need to savor. It hasn’t happened much in Ole Miss baseball. We know it’s a special time, so we’re coming out here, having a lot of fun and soaking it in.”
Rolison going Wednesday
Ryan Rolison will get the ball Wednesday in Hoover as Ole Miss tries to strengthen its case for a national seed come the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels are guaranteed at least two tournament games after receiving a bye into the double-elimination portion of the bracket.
Rolison last pitched Thursday in the Rebels’ series opener against Alabama, limiting the Crimson Tide to two runs on two hits while striking out eight in six innings. Rolison (8-4, 3.95 ERA) has logged at least six innings in five of his last seven starts, though command has been a problem of late with the left-hander issuing 12 walks in his last three starts spanning 15 ⅔ innings.