OXFORD, Miss. – After kicking off fall practice over the weekend, the Ole Miss baseball team released its schedule for the 2017 season Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 20). The 56-game schedule features 32 games at Swayze Field and a trio of games in one of the most prestigious regular season tournaments in college baseball.
The regular season kicks off with East Carolina, led by former Rebel assistant coach Cliff Godwin, coming to Oxford for a three-game series, Feb. 17-19, and culminates when the Rebels hit the road to battle Auburn three months later (May 18-20) in the final contests prior to starting postseason play with the SEC Tournament (May 23-28).
“With fall practice underway and now announcing our 2017 schedule, it’s an exciting time during the offseason,” said head coach Mike Bianco. “Our non-conference schedule is difficult once again, playing a pair of NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago and traveling to the prestigious Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Combining that with the always-difficult SEC schedule will test us on the Road to Omaha.”
The schedule is highlighted by 26 games against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last summer, including 20 games versus opponents with an RPI in the top 25 at the end of the 2016 season. Although 46 percent of the schedule consists of NCAA Tournament teams, Ole Miss will host the majority of them at venerable Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. The 32-game home slate features 15 contests versus opponents that qualified for the 2016 NCAA Tournament, including three-game series versus UNC-Wilmington (Feb. 24-26), Vanderbilt (Mar. 17-19), Mississippi State (Mar. 31-Apr. 2) and Texas A&M (May 12-14).
Last year, home attendance records were shattered with 291,714 fans flocking to Swayze Field for Rebel baseball games. Averaging 8,580 fans per game, Ole Miss ranked second nationally in average attendance. The Rebels played in front of crowds over 10,000 five times throughout the 2016 campaign, helping create the best atmosphere in college baseball.
An eight-game homestand kicks off the 2017 season. After hosting East Carolina on opening weekend, Ole Miss hosts Arkansas State in the first midweek game of the year (Feb. 21). A three-game series against UNCW, the 2016 Colonial Athletic Association regular season champions, followed by a Tuesday matchup versus Memphis (Feb. 28), wraps up the homestand.
The Rebels will hit the road for the first time in 2017 when they travel to the Shriners Hospitals Children College Classic (March 3-5). A prominent weekend of college baseball at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros, begins with Ole Miss facing Baylor Friday afternoon. The Rebels will battle Texas Tech on Saturday before concluding the tournament with a showdown against TCU Sunday.
Five home games and a neutral-site contest await Ole Miss after its weekend in Houston. Georgia State makes the trip to Oxford for a pair of midweek contests (March 7-8), while Furman is the Rebels’ final non-conference weekend opponent (March 10-12). In the last game prior to the start of conference play, Ole Miss will hit the coast to face Nicholls at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi (March 14).
Ole Miss begins the always rigorous SEC schedule with a home series versus Vanderbilt (March 17-19). The Rebels’ first true road series will take place the following weekend at Kentucky (March 24-26). The Rebels and Gamecocks, two of the most successful programs in the SEC in recent history, will take the field after not facing one another last season.
Other home SEC series for the Rebels include: Mississippi State (March 1-April 2), Alabama (April 7-9), Missouri (April 21-23), and Texas A&M (May 12-14). Ole Miss will also hit the conference road for trips to rival LSU (April 13-5), Arkansas (April 28-30), Florida (May 5-7), and Auburn (May 18-20).
The Rebels will head to Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, for two games versus in-state foes. Ole Miss will face Southern Miss April 4 before battling Mississippi State April 25. The contest with the Bulldogs will be the annual Governor’s Cup, and the Rebels will look to reclaim the rivalry trophy.
The SEC Tournament will once again be held in Hoover, Alabama, at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium from May 23-28. It is the 20th-straight year the premier conference tournament will take place at The Hoover Met.
The Rebels return 19 players from last season’s team, including five starting position players and seven pitchers that tossed at least 30 innings a year ago. Ole Miss also welcomes in 18 newcomers, featuring 15 freshmen and three junior college transfers that make up the best recruiting class in school history. Seven incoming freshmen were high school All-Americans, while one transfer earned Junior College All-America honors last season.
For the latest news and updates involving Ole Miss Baseball, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissBSB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Baseball on Instagram at olemissbsb and now on Snapchat at OleMissBSB. Fans can also follow head coach Mike Bianco on Twitter at @CoachMikeBianco.