By Adam Brown
The No. 10 Ole Miss baseball team received more accolades on Thursday from the SEC office when the 2019 Preseason Coaches Poll and Preseason All-SEC Teams were revealed.
Head Coach Mike Bianco’s club enters the season as the reigning SEC Tournament champions. They’re also tied for the most players selected to the Preseason All-SEC with four: Cole Zabowski, Parker Caracci, Chase Cockrell and Tyler Keenan.
This season the diamond Rebels are picked to finish second in the SEC Western Division, but they did receive a first-place vote. The LSU Tigers are picked to represent the top of the SEC Western Division.
Zabowski enters as the Rebels’ lone first-team selection after earning SEC All-Defensive Team honors in 2018. The junior first baseman was also named a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award as he made just four errors in all of 2018, finishing with a .990 fielding percentage. The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native hit .300 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Caracci leads a group of three Rebels on the second team, adding to a litany of preseason honors for the redshirt junior closer. Earlier this week, Caracci earned his fifth Preseason All-American nod of 2019.
The redshirt junior out of Jackson, Mississippi, was selected in the 37th Round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, but he elected to return to Oxford for 2019. Caracci totaled 10 saves last year, tying him for the seventh-most in a single season in program history. Caracci also amassed 73 strikeouts in 48.0 innings pitched, compared to just 14 walks for a 5.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed just 38 hits and maintained a 2.25 ERA.
Cockrell secured second-team honors in the DH/Utility slot after his junior year at the plate. The senior out of Bastrop, Louisiana, hit .317 a year ago with nine home runs, 38 RBI and 37 runs scored. Cockrell was also named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, given to the national player of the year in college baseball.
Keenan landed on the second team after putting together one of the best seasons by a freshman in Ole Miss history. The third baseman out of Clayton, North Carolina, earned Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game after hitting .301 with nine home runs and a .520 slugging percentage.
Ole Miss takes the diamond for the first time on Feb. 15 in a three-game series against Wright State. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.