Lee starts for rebels
Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2014
The Ole Miss baseball team was off to a perfect 4-0 start entering a weekend home series against Georgia State.
The quick start by the Rebels has a local flavor to it.
Former Picayune High and Pearl River Community College standout Braxton Lee has started every game so far in left field and is hitting in the lead off spot for Ole Miss and head coach Mike Bianco.
Lee has four hits, scored five runs and stolen two bases so far, as well as driving in a run and has played error free ball in the field.
After sweeping Stetson on the road in three games over the weekend to begin the season, Ole Miss ran its mark to 4-0 in the middle of the week with a 6-0 win over U.T.-Martin.
Ole Miss went 38-24 last season, 15-15 in the SEC, and ended the season with two losses in the NCAA Tournament at the Raleigh, N.C., Regional.
It was a less than stellar finish after a 21-3 start due in large part to the Rebels’ inability to make the biggest plays at the most critical times.
The Rebels were 7-11 in one-run games last season, 6-17 when trailing after six innings.
“All of our coaches throughout the fall were at our workouts watching us do every rep, seeing who was winning those races in conditioning runs,” said Will Allen, who returns to catcher this season as a senior.
He describes the near-misses of 2013 this way: “We had a ton of awesome players. We were close as a team, but obviously there was something missing.”
At a press conference earlier this week Bianco cited an eighth-ranked recruiting class and more depth. He also noted the absence of big names and preseason All-Americans.
“We’ve had our share,” he said.
The SEC coaches noted that absence also when the picked the Rebels sixth in the Western Division. It’s the lowest starting point assigned by Bianco’s peers since his first season in 2001.
Infielder Austin Anderson pointed to Vanderbilt as model for the Rebels.
The Commodores were ranked No. 2 last year when they came to Oxford and won three times, twice by a run, once by two runs and once in extras.
“You just watch Vanderbilt last year. They just seemed confident. There was something about them that they knew they were going to win, that you thought they were going to beat you.”