Baseball is back

Published 1:00 pm Friday, February 17, 2023

By Jeff Roberson (Via Ole Miss Athletics)

In some ways June 26, 2022, seems like last month. But that may be because we’ve been celebrating the national championship won on that date by Ole Miss baseball ever since.

It was a College World Series championship for the team of 2022. But it was really much more than that. You might say that title, the one we still celebrate, is for every player who has ever worn the baseball uniform of the Ole Miss Rebels. It really has been that important to this program and this University.

Email newsletter signup

It marked the sixth time for an Ole Miss baseball team to play in the CWS. There were other years Ole Miss teams could have gone to Omaha, maybe even should have gone. I’m sure several of those teams come to mind as you read this.

But now it is 2023 and Mike Bianco, in his 23rd season in Oxford as head coach, knows it’s time to begin again. Actually that’s been the case since last summer, just weeks after the national title was won, when newcomers who were not a part of that championship team showed up. The team was basically half new.

Some of the names you’ll never forget are gone from the 2022 postseason roster – Graham, Bench, DeLucia, Leatherwood, Dunhurst, Diamond, Cioffi, Van Cleve, Gaddis, Johnson . . . Elko.

There are some familiar names still on the roster for the new season, but there are a host of new ones to learn. You’ll see that beginning today as the 2023 season opens with Delaware.

Most polls and prognosticators have Ole Miss ranked high again, certainly in the upper half of the Southeastern Conference, some as high as top 8 nationally, which is how many teams advance to Omaha in June.

Of course, we saw last year how much polls mean at this time or basically anytime throughout the season. Not that much. Just go out and play the games, and that’s how you find out who is the last team standing in late June.

By most indicators, if there’s ever been a week and a half party like the one Ole Miss was involved in – or threw – in Omaha last June, few before it have compared. Ole Miss people would like to have a chance to do that again this June.

There’s normally a chance this program can make it. Bianco and his staff have put competitive teams on the field year in and year out since the beginning of this century. This year should be no different.

Sure, there’ll be ups and downs like always. But if we learned anything at all from last year, it’s actually what we already knew. Let the season play out and see what happens.

The students have their spots reserved in right field. That ritual took half an hour last Friday afternoon, but the wait was some four days as Swayzeville signaled again that it was almost time to play ball.

At 4 p.m. today, it will be. And another season of Ole Miss baseball will begin.

This time, although with a different team and many new faces on the roster, the Rebels are the current national champions of college baseball.

And for that reason we still celebrate, just as we have since June 26, 2022.