By Adam Brown
Ole Miss baseball held its annual media day on Friday as Coach Mike Bianco talked about what can be expected of his 2021 club.
The Rebels are entering this season ranked as high as No.4 in the nation according to Baseball America’s preseason top 25 poll. Ole Miss finished as one of the hottest teams in the country in 2021 with a 16-1 record despite the season being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ole Miss is preparing to open the season at the State Farm College Baseball Tournament in Arlington, Texas, in three weeks on Feb. 19.
Coach Bianco has many players returning from last season. So far, the projected pitching lineup shows Doug Nikhazy on Friday, Gunnar Hoglund on Saturday, and Derek Diamond on the mound on Sunday.
“One of the reasons the expectations are so high is because we do return our entire rotation,” Bianco said.
According to Bianco, Taylor Broadway would be the closer if the season started today.
“Last year, he was one of our ace’s out of the bullpen,” Bianco said.
The Rebels have 22 pitchers on the staff heading into the season.
“A lot of them are veterans that have pitched valuable innings and have valuable experience,” Bianco said. “Guys that we will count on and need this spring. Guys like Austin Miller, Max Cioffi, Tyler Myers, Greer Holston, Logan Savell. All guys that have pitched. Not to mention newcomers like Luke Baker, Cody Adcock, Brandon Johnson and Josh Mallitz.”
Sophomore southpaw Jackson Kimbrell and right hander Drew McDaniel are candaties for midweek starters.
“Drew really had an outstanding fall,” Bianco said. “Jackson, little bit of an injury-ridden fall, but a guy that had some midweek starts for us last year. Excited for both of those guys.”
A look at around at the rest of the diamond shows Hayden Dunhurst behind the plate, Cael Baker at first base, Peyton Chatagnier at second base, Tim Elko at third base, Jacob Gonzalez at shortstop, Kevin Graham in left field, Justin Bench in center field, Hayden Leatherwood in right field and Ben Van Cleve at DH.
“Look for John Rhys Plumlee in center,” Bianco said. “Jerrion Ealy will be out this season due to the shoulder injury. Plumlee has done really well, made some big-time improvements offensively and defensively.”