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Baseball Wins SEC Sportsmanship Award

Mike Bianco addresses the team before the game, Photo by Steven Gagliano

The Ole Miss baseball team, in partnership with the Vanderbilt baseball team, received the 10th annual Southeastern Conference Sportsmanship Award, the league office announced Thursday morning. The two programs were named winners of the men’s award for their show of support for a grieving family during a baseball game this spring.

The announcement marks the third time that an Ole Miss team or student-athlete has won the SEC Sportsmanship Award. Rodney Scott of Ole Miss Football was the first Rebel to earn the accolade in 2010, while the Ole Miss softball team claimed the honor in 2011.
The honorees were selected by a vote of the SEC’s 14 Directors of Athletics. Tate Schroeder, a freshman tennis player at Missouri, earned the women’s SEC Sportsmanship Award for her honesty and integrity during a tennis match against the University of Tennessee.
“There are many stories of sportsmanship, generosity and compassion on the part of Southeastern Conference student-athletes, and these two stories are indicative of a spirit that is prevalent in the SEC,” said Commissioner Greg Sankey. “Integrity in competition and empathy for those in need are hallmark traits that exhibit the true character of an SEC student-athlete. We are proud of Tate and the Ole Miss and Vanderbilt baseball teams for setting a standard of excellence and being true to the spirit of athletic competition in the Southeastern Conference.”
In August of 2016, the Oxford, Mississippi, community was struck with tragedy when a plane crash in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, claimed the lives of six people. The victims were three couples who left behind 11 children amongst them. One of the individuals lost in the incident was Dr. Jason Farese, a 1997 graduate of Vanderbilt University where he played baseball for the Commodores. He later earned a degree in dentistry from the University of Mississippi.
In March of 2017, the Ole Miss and Vanderbilt baseball teams came together in a game at Oxford to offer support for Farese’s three children. Hours prior to the game, Luke (10), Alexa (7) and Layla (5) were invited onto the field to meet the Ole Miss team. Luke even stepped into the batting cage for a short batting practice session. When each team took batting practice, Luke joined both of them, chasing down fly balls with the Ole Miss and Vanderbilt outfielders. Vanderbilt presented Luke with a baseball cap, matching the one his father wore two decades ago. The Rebels gave Luke an Ole Miss Baseball t-shirt as well.
Minutes before the game began, Alexa and Layla joined Luke out on the mound for the ceremonial first pitch. Luke stepped up to the mound in his Vanderbilt hat and Ole Miss t-shirt, throwing a strike right down the middle. They were welcomed back from the field by both teams with high fives and emotional embraces. For the National Anthem, the Farese children joined their father’s alma mater along the first base line. It was a special moment where two teams put aside the competition on the field and worked together to create a special day for the three children.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports
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