Rebels go to work early at tournament

Published 8:30 am Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ole Miss first baseman Sikes Orvis and his teammates were set to play the SEC Tournament’s early game for the third time in four years when they faced Alabama this morning. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle)

Ole Miss first baseman Sikes Orvis and his teammates were set to play the SEC Tournament’s early game for the third time in four years when they faced Alabama this morning. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle)

JACKSON — If all went according to plan and the weather cooperated this morning, the Ole Miss Rebels woke up before dawn, ate a nice breakfast and arrived at Regions Park to take batting practice as the sun was just beginning to rise over Hoover, Ala.

Some teams might have a problem adjusting to that schedule on a Tuesday morning. Not Ole Miss. At the Southeastern Conference Tournament, it’s gotten used to replacing Gatorade with coffee in the morning.

The Rebels (30-25) were set to open the tournament today by playing the first game, at 9:30 a.m. against Alabama (29-26). It’s the third time in four years that they’ve drawn the early assignment.

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Playing and winning while wiping sleep from your eyes is a tough task — especially in today’s single-elimination first round — but it’s one Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said his teams have gotten used to.

“It puts a lot of pressure on you that first day, especially at 9:30 a.m.,” Bianco said. “But we’ve been in that game before, to where the guys laughed and almost joked about it that it’s our game because we’ve been in it so much.”

The Rebels are in plenty of good spirits these days. They hadn’t won more than three games in a row the first 2 1/2 months of the season, then ripped off six wins in seven games to go into the tournament with plenty of positive momentum.

First baseman Sikes Orvis has hit seven home runs in his last seven games and was named the SEC’s Co-Player of the Week on Sunday. He’s hitting .481 during the team’s recent surge.

The pitching staff has also been strong. Scott Weathersby, a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, has developed into a front line starter after starting the year in the bullpen. He’s 4-1 with a 2.39 ERA overall.

Weathersby’s move into the rotation has allowed Wyatt Short to become a dominant closer. He’s made five appearances during the team’s late-season streak and hasn’t given up a run. In fact, he’s only given up one hit in 6 2/3 innings.

Short has four saves and a win in the last seven games, and overall this season is 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA and 10 saves.

“We solidified the rotation. Wyatt Short has been tremendous out of the bullpen. He’s been good all year long, but he’s taken it to another level since Scott moved into that starting role,” Bianco said.

Bianco said he didn’t have any magic secret for the team’s recent success. He said the Rebels have simply gotten better as the season drew to a close.

Now, they just need to keep their roll going for at least another week.

“I think we’ve just played better,” Bianco said. “We’ve played better in April and May than we did in February and March. We said that all along, that we’ll get better. I think we’ve gotten better in all aspects.”

Southeastern Conference Tournament

At Hoover, Ala.


Game 1 – Ole Miss vs. Alabama, 9:30 a.m.

Game 2 – Missouri vs. South Carolina, 1 p.m.

Game 3 – Kentucky vs. Auburn, 4:30 p.m.

Game 4 – Arkansas vs. Tennessee, 8 p.m.


Game 5 – Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss-Ala. winner, 9:30 a.m.

Game 6 – Vanderbilt vs. Missouri-South Carolina, 1 p.m.

Game 7 – LSU vs. Kentucky-Auburn winner, 4:30 p.m.

Game 8 – Florida vs. Arkansas-Tennessee winner, 8 p.m.


Game 9 – Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 9:30 a.m.

Game 10 – Game 7 loser vs. Game 8 loser

Game 11 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:30 p.m.

Game 12 – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 8 p.m.


Game 13 – Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 3 p.m.

Game 14 – Game 10 winner vs. Game 12 loser, 7 p.m.


Game 15 – Game 13 winner vs. Game 11 winner, Noon

Game 16 – Game 14 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 4 p.m.


Championship game, 3:30 p.m.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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