OXFORD, Miss. – Just days before the Rebels take the field for the first practice of the new year, the Ole Miss baseball team released its schedule for the 2018 season. The 56-game slate will feature 32 games at the newly-renovated Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field, as well as 24 games against NCAA Tournament teams from last year.
Ole Miss will welcome Winthrop (Feb. 16-18) as the first to play in Oxford, and fans will have plenty of chances to see the Rebels play at home as they kick off the season. Swayze Field, which featured the second-highest attendance in the nation for the second straight year in 2017, will be home to the first eight games of the season, as well as 17 of the first 22.
Last year, Ole Miss finished behind only LSU in average attendance with 8,545 fans per game, and also set regular season school records for total attendance (273,448) and average attendance (8,545). With a plethora of home games before taking off on the road, the Rebels will look for an electrifying crowd as they experience their first year in the upgraded stadium.
The 2018 schedule features 24 games against NCAA Tournament teams from 2016, as well as six opponents that finished in the top 25 of the RPI. That slate of games begins with non-conference foes Long Beach State (March 2-4) as well as two midweek games versus in-state foe Southern Miss (March 27, April 10). The always-daunting SEC schedule is showcased by six tournament teams, including Texas A&M (March 23-25), Arkansas (March 30-April 1), Mississippi State (April 6-8), Vanderbilt (April 13-15), LSU (April 27-29) and Auburn (May 11-13).
“Life in the SEC, it’s never easy,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “To play Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vandy, and Texas A&M all on the road, it’s quite a challenge but I know we’re excited for it.”
This year’s non-conference slate is highlighted by a weekend trip to Long Beach State, which hosted both a regional and super regional last year as a No. 1 seed. After the series in California, the Rebels will only leave Oxford once more to take on Georgia State in Atlanta (March 13-14) before opening SEC play against Tennessee (March 16-18).
“I think when you look at the two middle weekends, the two nationally-named programs are Tulane and Long Beach State,” Bianco said. “I really like the non-conference slate. We always try to go on the road one weekend, and it will be a challenging weekend to play Long Beach State for us on the road. It will be a long trip, but one that certainly will test us going forward into SEC play.”
The eight-game home stretch to open the season is commenced by Winthrop from Feb. 16-18, followed by a midweek game against Memphis on Feb. 20. The following weekend series will be played against Tulane (Feb. 23-25), as well as one final home game against Murray State (Feb. 27) before taking off for Long Beach.
The Rebels will return to face Austin Peay (March 6) and Little Rock (March 7) in a couple of midweek games before hosting Eastern Illinois for a three game series from March 9-11. A two-game bout with Georgia State (March 13-14) will wrap up the Rebels’ non-conference play before they head home to face Tennessee.
The Rebels and the Volunteers will kick off SEC play on March 16-18 in Oxford. Other home series for Ole Miss within league play include Arkansas (March 30-April 1), Georgia (April 20-22), LSU (April 27-29), and Auburn (May 11-13).
Following the Tennessee series, Ole Miss plays a weekday game against New Orleans (March 21), before jetting off to face Texas A&M (March 23-25) in College Station, Texas. The Rebels will travel around the SEC to face some of the league’s premier teams, including at Mississippi State (April 6-8), Vanderbilt (April 13-15), South Carolina (May 4-6), and Alabama (May 17-19).
Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi, will again be home to two of the Rebels’ competitive in-state matchups against Southern Miss and Mississippi State. Ole Miss will first host the Golden Eagles in Oxford on March 27, but will travel down to Pearl for the second of two matchups on April 10. The Governors’ Cup will be up for grabs on April 24, when Ole Miss and Mississippi State battle it out at Trustmark after their original series.
Sprinkled within SEC play are a few midweek games against nearby opponents. Ole Miss will head to Memphis for the second of two games against the Tigers on April 3, and the Rebels will play host to Arkansas State (April 18) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (May 2).
The Diamond Rebs will wrap up their season with a three-game series in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, just before the annual SEC Tournament takes place at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama, during the week of May 22-27.
The Rebels lost four players to the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, and return many players who made an impact last year. On the mound, three Freshman All-American pitchers (Will Ethridge, Ryan Rolison, Houston Roth), as well as USA Baseball Collegiate National Team member Dallas Woolfolk will add to an already top-notch pitching staff that was top 25 in the nation in six different statistical categories last year. Ole Miss also welcomes a talented freshman class of 10 players, as well as four JUCO transfers.
Ole Miss baseball season tickets are now on sale at OleMissTix.com or by calling the Ole Miss Athletics Ticket Office at 1-888-REB-TKTS. The renewal deadline for returning season ticket holders is Sept. 30, and new fans who purchase new season tickets will have the option to select seat location in Mid-November at OleMissSeats.com.
TV designations and times will be announced at a later date, and the full slate of game times will be released following that. All home games and SEC road games not already slated for a national broadcast will be streamed on SEC Network + via the ESPN app and WatchESPN.