Our next stop on the 360 Rebels Tour is Ole Miss baseball.
Our player highlight on the tour is Auston Bousfield. Boz started every game this season and finished with the team's 2nd highest batting average at .349. He won the C-Spire Ferris Award for being the best collegiate baseball player in Mississippi and earned 1st-Team all SEC accolades. I got a chance to ask him some questions about his (presumably, but hopefully not, last) season as an Ole Miss Rebel.
1. What word describes this team and its efforts this season? Why?
AB: Toughness. It's something we've talked about all year. Coach preaches about the need to be tough all the time. The ability to bounce back after losing a game or playing through adversity is a key component of what we try to do. We have to be tough and have faith in each other and stay composed each at bat and each game.
2. What's been your favorite tradition playing baseball at Swayze Field?
AB: As an outfielder, it would have to be throwing the ball back and forth with the students and fans in right field. Seeing what they write each inning is always fun and a way to stay engaged with the fans who support us.
3. Talk about strength coach Ben Fleming and the impact he's had on the program.
AB: He's been great for the program. He's made us tougher physically and pushed us each day throughout the off-season. But he's also gotten us mentally tougher and that helps us weather the grind of the season and the Southeastern Conference as we push to the NCAA Tournament.
4. What's impressed you the most about this freshman class?
AB: This group had the ability to step right in and contribute to the team. Guys like Wyatt Short, Errol Robinson, J.B. Woodman, Evan Anderson and Colby Bortles have all had significant at bats and moments where they came through and delivered a play when we needed it. They've all had a part in helping lift us at times and get us where we are at the end of the year.
5. What's been your favorite memory so far of playing baseball at Ole Miss?
AB: I'd say it has to be when we won on Sunday against Florida in the 2012 season. The atmosphere was electric and they were the top-ranked team in the nation. It was a big walk-off to get us the series win and the fans were into it so much as we fought back and forth. Add in the fact that we were under a travel curfew and no new innings could start, it really magnified the importance of each at bat in the ninth with the game tied 6-6.
6. How did you pick your walk out music? If it changes each season, why?
AB: I've had a different style of music each year. I don't really put too much into the decision, I just try to go with a song that I like. I don't have a rhyme or reason to the selection.
Thanks again to Kyle Campbell, Bill Bunting and Auston Bousfield for working with us to make this interview happen! Traditionally, the Rebel 360 Tour has coincided with me attending one of the corresponding games. Considering I've been to almost every home game this season, I thought I'd use this post as an opportunity to reflect on this season and some of it's best (and worst) memories.
Walk-off extravaganza: Starting with two midweek games against ULM and continuing with the first two games against UCF, the Rebels won in a come-from-behind-walk off fashion. Sure we have had our rough breaks and bad calls during the season, but we also had a walk-off win streak. Suppose we lose those games? Maybe we are a bubble team for hosting instead of a lock. These games were extremely fun to attend albeit equally nerve wracking.
SEC series losses to USC and Bama: These SEC series losses were really tough to swallow early in the season. However, the Rebs bounced back to only lose one more SEC series for the rest of the season. Looking back, it was better to lose them earlier in the season and on the road.
Friday night fireworks: Well done Swayze powers that be. This needs to be a tradition from here on out, especially considering we didn't lose a single Friday home game all season long (LSU's Nola win was a Thursday). Nothing is more American than singing along to Celebrate Good Times and God Bless America at a baseball game with a cold beer in your hand as fireworks light up the night sky. 'MURICA
Austin Anderson's intentional walk HR: Speaking of Friday night fireworks, this was the most memorable. As the game headed to extras and the night wore on, the announcer continuously reminded the stadium that fireworks would be cancelled for the evening out of respect to neighboring houses. Well I guess the firework guys didn't catch the memo. The Auburn pitcher didn't quite get the ball as up and away as he wanted and Anderson blasted the ball to RF for the Rebel victory. To all the students that left early to go see Nelly, I hope you are never able to forgive yourself.
Losing the rubber match to LSU: Our bats went cold against a freshman starting pitcher in his SEC debut against one of the hottest hitting teams in the conference. It sucked.
Sweep of Kentucky in Lexington: Heading into this series, it was a toss up between Ole Miss and Kentucky as to who would be the last SEC regional host. It would be a tough task for the Rebs considering Kentucky was entering the weekend with the hottest bats and hottest player in the country. Well the Rebels' bats were even hotter, outscoring the Wildcats 39-15 and outhitting them 49-32 on the weekend. I was at the beach this weekend and completely attribute the Sunday victory to the amount of ballpark peanuts I consumed.
Like cracked peanut shells, KY's dignity and hope broke upon the beach, torn asunder by a RCR koozie. Rebs win 9-6! pic.twitter.com/VTjcA2CkLj— Smeargle (@smeargleRCR) April 27, 2014
Giving away Ws: At times it felt like the baseball squad wanted to do their share of WAOMing throughout the season. With leads heading into the last couple frames of a game, the Rebs ended up on the losing side. The ones that jump out and come to mind are Saturday @USC, Saturday @MSU, Sunday @A&M, and the 2nd loss to Arkansas in the SEC tournament. While these losses stung and probably ended up costing Ole Miss a national seed, it's neither here nor there to lament them. Paraphrasing Bianco, you just have to move on and realize that you will have to win an extra one that you aren't supposed to in order to make up them. I'd say the Rebs have done a pretty decent job in that regard.
Thanks to the baseball squad and all the people involved that make our baseball program tick. It's been a great run so far. Here's hoping we get to keep it going. What are some of your favorite/loathsome memories of this past season?