Lee leads Rebels

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2014

There’s a very good chance that the first official plate appearance by an Ole Miss Rebel in 42 years at the College World Series will be made by a Picayune product.

Former Maroon Tide standout Braxton Lee has hit lead-off and played leftfield for most of the season for Ole Miss. The Rebels are headed to Omaha for the first time since 1972 after winning the Super Regional round against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Ole Miss (46-19) will play the final opening round game against number three national seed Virginia (49-14) Sunday Night at 7 at T.D. Ameritrade Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN 2.

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The Cavaliers are the top remaining national seed, No. 1 in RPI and won their regional in three games after losing Game 1 of the super regional to Maryland.

“It’s just an awesome feeling,” Lee, who led the Southeastern Conference with 30 stolen bases this season, said. He was drafted in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball Amateur draft last week.

“I can’t believe we are actually going to Omaha,” he added. “For it to be my first year with these guys it is an awesome experience.”

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco came back for his 14th season having to replace his two aces and his all-american catcher, and he had a collection of youth and inexperience that included Lee to do it with.

“When I left LSU as an assistant coach, we went to Omaha four out of five times and won three national championships, and boy did Skip Bertman make it look easy,” Bianco said. “As a young coach at McNeese State and there for three years, you felt like at one point you would have your team and coach them up and make it to Omaha. You didn’t think it would take 17 years.”

Ole Miss set the standard for the rest of the nation this year with nine players drafted, including Lee, and ULL was not far behind with a total of seven.

The nine Rebels that got picked are senior third baseman Austin Anderson, junior relief pitcher Josh Laxer, junior left fielder Braxton Lee, junior pitcher Chris Ellis, senior catcher Will Allen, junior reliever Hawtin Buchanan (a Biloxi native), senior pitcher Aaron Greenwood, sophomore pitcher Christian Trent and junior outfielder Auston Bousfield.

Rebel first baseman Sikes Orvis, one of the top power hitters in the SEC, was not drafted.

“It’s a very mature group, but I want them to enjoy this week,” Bianco said. “This is what it’s all about. I mentioned to (the freshmen) that Austin Anderson and Will Allen have been here for four years. We want them to enjoy this and I think they deserve it. I have no doubt once we get back to campus and have a practice or two, they’ll get ready to go to Omaha and refocus.”