By Ole Miss Media Relations
OXFORD – The preseason rankings continued to come in for the Rebels with Ole Miss finding itself ranked in the third poll of 2010 when the USAToday/ESPN Coaches Poll tabbed the Rebels as the 17th-ranked team in the nation on Friday.
Ole Miss is also ranked among the top 25 nationally by both Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America. Four teams from the Southeastern Conference are ranked among the top 25 in the coaches poll.
The first edition of the USAToday/ESPN Coaches Poll to be released in the regular season will come on March 1.
Returning on the mound to lead the Rebels this season is southpaw Drew Pomeranz, who was named as an All-America selection in the preseason publication. Pomeranz has also been named a preseason All-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association heading into the 2010 season.
The junior left-hander posted an 8-4 record a year ago on the way to All-SEC honors. He struck out 124 batters on the year and posted a 3.40 ERA, second among all returning pitchers in the SEC in both categories.
He also tossed two complete games on the year – a win over No. 20 Florida on the road and a win over Western Kentucky in the NCAA Regional Championship game. Pomeranz also struck out 16 batters and allowed only one unearned run in the win over the Hilltoppers to send Ole Miss to a third Super Regional in the last four years.
Also returning on the mound are several other experienced hurlers, including senior right-hander Rory McKean and sophomore right-hander David Goforth. McKean posted a 5-1 record with a save a year ago, striking out 42 batters while walking only 14. Goforth posted a 1-1 record with three saves as a reliever for the Rebels and looks to move into that role more this season with the loss of junior right-hander Jake Morgan to injury.
Ole Miss returns six position starters for the 2010 season, including three players who hit above the .330 mark a year ago. Junior Tim Ferguson, senior Zach Miller and senior Matt Smith all return to the lineup this season to help lead a Rebel offense that was third in the SEC a year ago.
Ferguson is the top returning player in steals, going 18-for-19 a year ago as he hit .358 for the season. Miller batted .341 and was a consistent presence on the bases with a .438 on base percentage as he also drew 26 walks and led the team in hit by pitch (14). Smith tied for the team lead in home runs a year ago (8) and led the Rebels with 59 RBI as he hit .336 on the season.
Other returning starters are sophomore Matt Snyder – who tied with Smith for the lead in home runs with eight and hit .298 on the year – senior outfielder David Phillips, and senior shortstop Kevin Mort. Mort was one of the top defensive players in the league a year ago with only seven errors and started 62-of-64 games played on the season. Phillips hit almost .300 for the season and tallied eight extra base hits while driving in 20 runs.
Ole Miss opens the 2010 season on February 19, when the Rebels host a three-game series against the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.