As they were last season when they won the division and finished fourth in the College World Series, Ole Miss has been picked to finish sixth in the West by SEC coaches. First baseman Sikes Orvis has been named first-team All-SEC.
Orvis, second in the SEC in home runs last season, is the only Ole Miss mention on the preseason all-conference team.
This from Sam Smith earlier this week at the baseball preseason presser:
“I don’t think it was that last year’s team didn’t have expectations. It was just … people didn’t know. It was kind of a question mark. We had a chance to be really good, or we could be average. We answered the question that we were going to be really good. I think it’s the same question this year. We’ve got a lot of guys that haven’t played. We’ll see how they’re going to play and how we’re going to answer the bell. I think we will do well, and people will play to their expectations.”
One difference between last year and this year is the key starters returning on this team — Sikes Orvis, Errol Robinson, J.B. Woodman, and Christian Trent — have produced at a high level in the SEC.
Before last season Auston Bousfield, Will Allen, Chris Ellis and Orvis had posted average numbers. That quartet made a collective jump.
Now a lot of production from that Omaha team is gone. That’s why its easy for SEC coaches to relegate the Rebels to the back of the bus.
There’s exciting potential on this team among several newcomers plus third baseman Colby Bortles. One big question will be can Bortles handle the bag defensively and carry a big bat throughout the season?