Ole Miss Baseball Earns Preseason Top 5 Ranking
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2020
TUCSON, Ariz. – Ole Miss baseball ended the 2020 season as one of the hottest teams in college baseball, and the Rebels will start the 2021 campaign right back near the top of the rankings.
Collegiate Baseball released the first preseason rankings for the 2021 season, slotting Ole Miss at No. 5 in the country.
The Rebels are one of three Southeastern Conference teams in the top five, along with No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Vanderbilt. LSU (No. 7) and Mississippi State (No. 9) round out a group of five SEC squads in the top 10. Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas are also representing the league in the top 25, while Texas A&M, Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn all landed in the top 50.
Ole Miss was tied for the best record in the nation at 16-1 before the campaign was cut short due to the spread of COVID-19. The lone loss came in the 2020 opener at the hands of No. 1 ranked Louisville. The Rebels fought back and won that series, and when the season concluded, they were on a 16-game winning streak—the longest in college baseball this year and just one shy of the program record.
The Rebels 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).
On the mound, Ole Miss finished with a team ERA of 2.92, placing the staff among the top 50 in the country. The Rebels were also in the top 40 nationally in shutouts (12th), strikeout-to-walk ratio (20th), walks allowed per nine innings (29th), strikeouts per nine innings (32nd) and WHIP (36th).
Head coach Mike Bianco was named National Coach of the Year by Collegiate Baseball at season’s end. Three Rebels—third baseman Tyler Keenan, shortstop Anthony Servideo and left-handed pitcher Doug Nikhazy—were honored as All-Americans in 2020, bringing the total to 20 in the Bianco era. Three All-Americans ties a program record set during 2014’s College World Series run.
Ole Miss added two Freshman All-Americans, catcher Hayden Dunhurst and second baseman Peyton Chatagnier, making 24 in Bianco’s 20 seasons. The Rebels have had two or more Freshman All-Americans in each of the last five seasons.
Bianco’s squad was on pace for its third straight 40-win season before the 2020 campaign was cut short. After winning 48 in 2018, 41 in 2019 and racing out to a 16-1 start in 2020, Ole Miss is tied for the fourth-most wins in the nation since 2018 at 105.