Coming off a 43-win season in 2016 and hauling in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, expectations are high for the Ole Miss baseball team this season. Perfect Game ranked the Rebels No. 8 in its national preseason poll, released Wednesday morning.
Ole Miss is one of five SEC schools ranked in Perfect Game’s Top 25. The No. 8 ranking is the Rebels’ highest preseason position since 2009 when Baseball America ranked Ole Miss sixth heading into the season.
Despite six players getting selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, the Rebels return five starters in their everyday lineup led by senior and Preseason All-American Colby Bortles. Second baseman Tate Blackman also returns for his junior season following a 2016 campaign in which he earned first-team All-SEC honors. The two Rebels were chosen by their teammates to be captains for the 2017 season.
Back on the mound, David Parkinson had a breakout debut season as a Rebel last year; the southpaw posted a 2.78 ERA as the No. 2 pitcher in the weekend rotation. Junior Will Stokes tied a school record with 30 appearances a season ago, pitching 43.0 innings and adding seven saves to his résumé. Ole Miss also returns three 2016 Freshman All-American pitchers in Brady Feigl, James McArthur and Andy Pagnozzi.
Joining the veterans will be 17 newcomers that make up the No. 1 nationally-ranked recruiting class, the first No. 1 recruiting class in Ole Miss Sports history. Seven high school All-Americans lead the group, including four that decided to continue their careers in Oxford despite being selected in the 2016 MLB Draft. Five incoming Rebels were ranked in the top 100 of high school baseball prospects, giving Ole Miss more than any other school in the country.
Season tickets for Rebel Baseball are on sale at OleMissTix.com. Ole Miss will open the 2017 season at home versus No. 10 East Carolina, Feb. 17-19. The top-10 series begins Friday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. from Swayze Field.
For the latest news and updates involving Ole Miss Baseball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissBSB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Baseball and on Instagram at olemissbsb. Rebel fans can also follow head coach Mike Bianco on Twitter @CoachMikeBianco.
Perfect Game’s Top 25
3) Florida State
5) South Carolina
7) Oregon State
8) Ole Miss
10) East Carolina
11) Oklahoma State
12) North Carolina
14) NC State
15) Cal State Fullerton
22) Cal Poly
24) Coastal Carolina
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports