Ole Miss finishes up final details for regional
Even Titus Queen, Ole Miss event manager and coordinator for this weekend’s Oxford Regional, had to take a break and get something to eat Monday night. With the No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels hosting a regional for the first time since 2009, there has been a lot to get accomplished in order for the four-team event to go off without a hitch.
Queen, who submitted the bid to the NCAA committee in order to land the regional, called getting the regional at Oxford-University Stadium a job well done for the baseball team.
“They went out and played well and we were rewarded for it. I was disappointed we didn’t get a national seed, but I guess that’s nothing we can control now. There are two phases for preparing for NCAA postseason events and phase one is the long, slow burn where you’re building the foundation and getting prepared should you be called to go run the race,” Queen said, who added the second phase started on Monday. “Everything comes flying at you all at once when you get the bid. I spent all day making sure our staff was ready to go with all the teams coming in, talking with the NCAA and making sure we’re all covered, talking to hotels and talking to various people who are going to be impacted by all of this.”
If things go well from a ticket and attendance standpoint, Ole Miss was expecting 10,000 fans for every game this weekend. And if the Rebels win three games, and can get some help from the other teams in the Lafayette (La.) Regional, then the following weekend could also see postseason baseball in Oxford as well.
“It’s not quite a football weekend, but this is a nice, unplanned bump for the city at this time of the year,” Queen said talking about the financial impact of the regional and possible super regional. “I wouldn’t say this is why we built the stadium the way we built it, but this is what we hope to strive for each year, to provide the community this bump and to provide our team a home venue in order to go as far as they can in the postseason.”
Lynette Johnson, Ole Miss Executive Associate Athletics Director, has been involved in securing regional bids since the first one was awarded in 2004. She passed the torch on to Queen this year. She ended up finding out the teams visiting Oxford watching the selection show on TV while attending the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla. She said she was a little surprised, not shocked, on the teams coming.
“When the committee is in the room, you just never know how those numbers play out with the RPI. They’re looking at sending teams close to you. Obviously Jackson State could have come to us, but they’re just as close to Lafayette. Washington came to us in ’04 so having a Pac-12 team really isn’t a surprise. It’s going to be a tough regional,” Johnson said. “Georgia Tech won the ACC Tournament title and Washington was like the runner-up in their conference. It’s going to be big-time this weekend in Oxford. Everyone in the field of 64 is in this for a reason, whether they had a good schedule and got in as an at-large or they won their conference tournament title. That’s what the NCAAs is all about, go through the best to get to Omaha.”
Johnson was also expecting a packed house for the six games over the weekend. An “if necessary” game would be played on Monday night at 7.
As for the possibility of Ole Miss hosting a super regional the first full weekend in June if Louisiana-Lafayette falls, Johnson was quick to remind that’s happened before.
“We hosted two out of three supers that way. From an Oxford, Mississippi standpoint, that’s how we hosted it in ’06 and then in ’09 when Virginia upset the national seed and came here. As far as Ole Miss goes, we understand that path to super regionals, that’s why you put in a bid, to be prepared to do that,” Johnson said. “You look at Mississippi State-Clemson several years ago, the two-three seed hosted. That’s why you’ve got to play, it’s a whole new slate.”
All Ole Miss games this weekend can be heard locally on WQLJ-FM 93.7, with David Kellum and Keith Kessinger calling the action.