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Ole Miss Baseball Practice Report: Show of Leadership

Week 2 of Ole Miss baseball’s fall season is in the books, and with it came a show of leadership from a few of Mike Bianco‘s Rebels.
After a strong showing in the opening week, freshman catcher Campbell Smithwick had another solid week and leads all Rebel hitters with a .467 average. Ole Miss’ trio of returning weekend starters—Xavier RivasGrayson Saunier and JT Quinn—were each sharp once again and all have sub-2.00 ERAs through two outings.
Ole Miss is set for three more intrasquad scrimmages this week: Thursday and Friday at 2:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. CT. All scrimmages and exhibitions are free and open to the public at Swayze Field. This week will be the final tune-up before Ole Miss’ first fall exhibition next Saturday, Oct. 14, vs. Jacksonville State.
Just a few minutes after Hunter Elliott declared Andrew Fischer the “most jacked guy on the team” on social media, the powerful Rebel infielder earned that title, crushing a 436-foot home run off the batter’s eye to open Friday’s scrimmage.
Fischer was a Freshman All-American and set Duke’s freshman home run record a year ago, and he has wasted little time showing that power. He had four hits on the weekend, all for extra bases: three home runs and a double. While Bianco is excited to see what Fischer can do with the bat against Southeastern Conference competition this spring, he’s already pleased with what he’s brought to the team.
“Andrew’s super talented and one of the prizes of the transfer portal that we got. Excited that he’s gotten off to a good start,” Bianco said. “He’s not only done that in the intrasquad games, but you can just see his actions day in and day out in practice and the leadership he’s brought, and that’s rare for a new guy. In your first month on campus to not just fit in and be comfortable but to get off to a great start, to show leadership qualities, to check a lot of boxes of the player that you hope they’re going to be come.”
Xavier Rivas finished the 2023 season as Ole Miss’ Friday night starter, and the left-hander has made a strong case early this fall to return to that ace role. The senior out of Portage, Indiana, threw three scoreless innings this weekend, striking out four along the way. He leads the team with eight Ks through five innings of work thus far.
The Rebels will likely lean heavily on Rivas’ left arm this spring, but even now with competition months away, he’s having a noticeable impact on the locker room. An elder statesman on the roster, Rivas turned down MLB Draft opportunities this summer to return to Oxford. For what he’s done both on and off the field, Rivas has the respect of his teammates.
“The way he handles himself, he’s a really good student, engineering major. He’s a guy who has a tremendous work ethic,” Bianco said. “He’s a guy who enjoys the game, when you see him around, when he’s not honing his craft, he’s out shagging balls and running around the outfield. He’s smiling. He’s very comfortable in his own skin, but he’s also focused when he’s doing his work whether it’s doing drill work on in the weight room, and that’s a good example for the younger guys of what you aspire to be.”
While the Rebels continue to build for the 2024 season, fans can now secure their tickets at Swayze Field for the coming campaign.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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