By Adam Brown
Opening day for college baseball is a week away and the Southeastern Conference office released its preseason selections on Thursday. Ole Miss is selected to finish first in the Western Division by the coaches.
Last season, prior to the stoppage of the shortened campaign due to the COVID-19 Pandemic the Rebels were one of the hottest clubs in the country at 16-1. Coach Mike Bianco’s squad was projected to sixth in the division.
This year’s projection is the highest since the 2008 season for the Rebels.
Senior third baseman Tim Elko and sophomore catcher Hayden Dunhurst were also honored by being named to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team.
The Rebel captain Elko hit .354 last season, appearing in 14 of the team’s 17 games with 12 starts. The senior out of Lutz, Florida, totaled four doubles, a triple and three home runs a season ago. He added 15 RBI and 12 runs scored while going 3-for-3 in stolen bases.
Dunhurst is coming off a freshman All-American campaign in which he hit .269 with five home runs and 15 RBI. Dunhurst also allowed just four stolen bases all season, the second-best mark in the SEC.
In 2020, Ole Miss closed the year ranked in the top five nationally and extended their streak to 36 consecutive weeks in the top 25. Ole Miss led the nation in home runs with 37 through 17 games and finished in the top 10 nationally in slugging percentage (3rd), runs scored per game (3rd), total runs scored (5th) and walks drawn (7th).
The Rebels head to Arlington, Texas to open the season on the diamond of Globe Life Field to take part in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown. Ole Miss will take on TCU, Texas Tech and Texas next weekend.