On Friday, the Ole Miss Rebels open the 2015 baseball season with weekend matchup against William & Mary at Swayze Field. We are getting so close to the anticipated season that we can smell the freshly cut grass at Swayze and feel the beer showers in right field. Are you Ready? We are prepared to bring you the complete preview of the upcoming season.
The biggest transition for Rebel fans from last season is that they will see a lot of new faces on the field in 2015. It was a given that No. 18 Ole Miss was going to receive a major hit by the Major Leagues after a very successful run in the 2014 College World Series. Last season the Rebels were loaded with an amazing pitching staff and a deep lineup of heavy hitters. Ole Miss is projected to be loaded with talent again this season, but that comes from a predominately new roster. Before we get into the newcomers, we want to pay recognition to the impact players of 2014 who will not be returning.
Auston Bousfield (Outfielder)
Auston Bousfield is a former All-American and played an important role in the Rebels success last season. In 2014, he finished with a .336 batting average (second highest on the team and ranked in the top five of the SEC). Bousfield tallied in 96 hits, 50 RBIs, and six homeruns while maintaining a .476 slugging percentage. He contributed to 61 of the Rebels’ 406 runs last season. Bousfield started in 69 games at centerfield and field a .981 field percentage, allowing only three errors, including only one dropped catch.
Most memorable moment of 2014: The memorable moments of Bousfield were never ending last season. I would have to say my favorite performance by the star centerfielder would have to be the weekend series of Ole Miss sweeping No. 17 Kentucky in Lexington. That weekend marked the first series sweep of a nationally-ranked team on the road since a sweep over No. 16 Arkansas in the 2009 season to clinch a share of the SEC Championship. This series had Bousfield’s name written all over it. He recorded an astonishing .714 batting average in the series against the Wildcats. Bousfield was responsible for a team-leading eight runs and also posted seven RBI on the weekend as he went 10-for-14 with four doubles and a home run. It was one of the most clutch performances by a single player against a highly ranked team I witnessed all season.
Then there was the moment of Bousfield being named the 2014 Ferris Trophy Award Winner, which is annually awarded to the state’s overall best player. That was just icing on the cake, considering State fans were certain that their star pitcher Ross Mitchell was going to win the award.
Where is he now?: Bousfield was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. He was then sent to the minor leagues where he is now playing for the Tri-City Dust Devils.
Will Allen (Catcher)
Jun 19, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Mississippi Rebels catcher Will Allen (30) celebrates scoring in the ninth inning against the TCU Horned Frogs during game ten of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mississippi defeated TCU 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Will Allen is another former All-American and was named a Johnny Bench Award Finalist, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top collegiate catcher. If his ravishing good looks and amazing hair wasn’t enough to keep your girlfriend interested in baseball, then maybe it was Allen’s batting average that impressed her the most. Nah, it was the looks. Allen led the team and within the top-five of the SEC with a .339 batting average last season. He also led the team with 64 RBI and second with 94 hits. His fielding performances as a catcher was just as good as when he was at bat. Behind the plate, Allen hauled in a .993 fielding percentage, and was able to out 11-of-36 runners caught stealing (.766).
Most memorable moment of the 2014 season: Allen was a hero for Ole Miss in the NCAA Tournament. During Game 2 of the La-Fayette Super-Regional, his RBI double to drive in Austin Anderson was a very nice moment, but I believe the fielding in Game 3 beat that. That moment when the Cajuns’ were on a nice rally in the seventh inning and La-Fayette’s Seth Harrison drove a ball down the third base line, scoring the lead runner to cut the lead to one. The Cajuns sent the trailing runner on the play, but Braxton Lee’s relay was on line as he threw the ball in to Errol Robinson who sent a laser to the plate and Allen tagged out the runner to end the inning with Ole Miss holding a slim 5-4 lead. It was a crowning moment that arguably made Ole Miss’ appearance in the 2014 College World Series possible.
Where is he now?: Despite suffering a torn right labrum during the NCAA Super-Regional, Allen was selected in the 13th round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Austin Anderson (Third Baseman)
Anderson moved to third base from shortstop in the 2014 season. Incoming freshman Errol Robinson took over the role at shortstop. Anderson finished last season third on the team with a .323 batting average. Through 269 appearances at the plate, Anderson tallied in 87 hits, 41 RBI, and five home runs while maintaining a .454 slugging percentage. He was responsible for 57 of Ole Miss’ runs, and his fielding was just as sensational as his offensive performances. Anderson finished with a .939 field percentage, putting out 49 runners, and hauled in 150 assists.
Most memorable moment of the 2014 season: I’m just gonna leave this here. Enjoy.
Where is he now?: Anderson was drafted in the ninth round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Baltimore Orioles.
Other Notable Players who will not return in an Ole Miss uniform in 2015:
Josh Laxer (RHP): Laxer played a huge role in the Rebels’ bullpen last season. The moment of him dropping to his knees on the mound in celebration of the Rebels’ advancement to the CWS, will never be forgotten. He was drafted in the ninth round by the Detroit Tigers in the 2014 MLB Draft.
Jun 15, 2014; Omaha, NE, USA; Mississippi Rebels pitcher Chris Ellis (10) prepares to take the mound against the Virginia Cavaliers during game four of the 2014 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Greenwood (RHP): Like Laxer, Greenwood was a stellar reliever for Ole Miss’ bullpen last season. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 28th round.
Chris Ellis (RHP): Routine Friday night starter Chris Ellis was amazing on the mound last season. Despite his struggles in the NCAA Tournament, he was selected the highest among former Rebels in the 2014 MLB Draft, going in the third round to the Los Angeles Angels. He is currently on the Orem Owlz roster in the minor leagues.
Hawtin Buchanan (RHP): Selected in the 20th round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.
Will Jamison (OF): Left Ole Miss to pursue medical degree at the University of Tennessee.
Austin Blunt (RPH): Graduated
Jeremy Massie (LHP): Graduated
Scott Ashford (RHP): Graduated
John Gatlin (IF): Graduated
Preston Overbey (IF): Graduated
Brantley Bell (IF): Transferred
Dalton Dulin (IF): Transferred
Peyton Attaway (OF): Transferred
Cheyne Bickel (RHP)
Braxton Lee (OF): Signed with the Hudson Valley Renegades (Minor Leagues)