clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Here’s Red Cup’s official Ole Miss baseball All-Decade team

We’re fairly certain this team could win the College World Series any year forever.

Josh McCoy-Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss could easily be described as having an embarrassment of riches when it comes to its baseball program. There’s phenomenal attendance year in and year out, a first class baseball facility, the beer showers in right field, and more than a decade and a half of consistent winning and tournament appearances.

We’re still not satisfied as fans, because the nature of winning and succeeding is you want more and more of it the more that it occurs, but the winning tradition is still there. Our fan base is starved for a championship and baseball undoubtedly came the closest to it in the last ten years, finishing third in 2014.

There was also a year of the best recruiting class in the nation anchored by local talent from Oxford, so expectations undoubtedly were extremely high the last decade as well. Plenty of great players to pick from, but only a small number made our list.

Alright, the line-up is set, crack open a cold one, and prepare yourself to bask in the unlimited beer showers these guys would provide.

Catcher - Stuart Turner

Ole Miss has had its fair share of great college catchers in Mike Bianco’s two decade career as head baseball coach, but the 2013 Johnny Bench Award winner is the best of them all. That season, Turner hit .374 with 51 RBI and five homers. More impressively, he threw out over 50% of base stealers in his lone season with the Rebs.

The guy was a combination of Will Allen on offense and Cooper Johnson on defense. The only surprise here is how much difficulty he’s had at making the show. Nevertheless, Turner was a machine in Oxford and well deserving of this spot.

First base - Matt Smith

This next Rebel is responsible for maybe the most iconic moment in recent memory. No, it didn’t technically happen this decade, but his walk-off home run against Virginia in the 2009 Super Regional will forever be remembered. His 2010 season, though, was to die for. The Eastman, Ga. native led the Rebels with a .348 average, slugged 12 home runs, and drove in 54 runs.

A four-year starter for the Rebels, Smith finished his career tied for first all-time in runs batted in, second in both home runs and total bases, and third in hits in program history. Smith, if you recall, actually came to Ole Miss as both a hitter and pitcher before tearing his UCL in his lone appearance on the mound on opening weekend of his freshman season. Seems like hitting worked out pretty well for him though.

Second base - Alex Yarbrough

There have been few second basemen in college baseball history as productive and efficient as Alex Yarbrough. As a junior, he hit .380 while committing just three errors in the field (.989 fielding percentage) for the entire season. That junior year is in the running for the best season in Ole Miss baseball history.

As such, the unanimous first team All-American is the easiest selection for this list. Yarbs was a delight to watch both in the field and at the plate, making it look all too easy. The Allen, Tex. native was named first-team all-defensive, All-SEC, and was also a finalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and Golden Spikes Award after arguably one of the best seasons ever in the Mike Bianco Era.

Shortstop - Grae Kessinger

At shortstop, you would be hard-pressed to find a more consistent player than Grae Kessinger. The first team All-American selection and Brooks Wallace Award winner, given to college baseball’s top shortstop, is a player who seemed to get better every time he stepped on the field in the red and blue. Grae hit a miserable .175 as a freshman, but he improved tremendously to .300 as a sophomore then exploded on the scene and hit .330 as a junior. He also improved his fielding, finishing with a .966 fielding percentage his final season.

He was a vocal and emotional leader on three Ole Miss teams despite his performance lacking in some areas at times. His ability to make web gem plays look routine was mesmerizing and his golden blonde lettuce was breathtaking.

Third base - Tyler Keenan

Another loaded position for Mike Bianco’s teams is third base (Chris Coghlan, Cody Overbeck, Zach Miller, Colby Bortles, Andrew Mistone, Austin Anderson), which leads us to the only current player on the all-decade team, Tyler Keenan. As a freshman, Keenan RAKED for a .301 average, and slugged .520 with 11 doubles and nine homers.

As a sophomore, he hit .285 with 15 homers and 66 runs batted in. Ole Miss fans have lofty expectations the Tar Heel native, hoping for a SEC Player of the Year type season in his ever important third year.

Left field - Thomas Dillard

Thomas Dillard was drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. That followed an incredible career that saw Dillard start 178 games in three seasons. He was also part of the No. 1-ranked 2016 signing class that hosted two regionals and finished one game away from the College World Series in 2019. Dillard drew a program record 61(!) walks that year and tied the career program mark at 135.

After struggling as a freshman, he totaled a 1.002 and .991 OPS in his final two seasons with the program. That along with a 2018 season with no errors playing every day in left field, he had double-digit home runs in his final two seasons at Swayze Field. Between his power and tremendous plate discipline, there’s a good case for putting Dillard in the leadoff spot on this all-decade team.

Center field - Auston Bousfield

2014 is a historic year in Ole Miss history. Yes, we made our first New Years Six bowl, but the Rebels also returned to Omaha for the College World Series for the first time in over four decades. Quick, name the only All-American on that team.

Auston Bousfield—that’s right—was the only All-American, and just a third-teamer at that. The Orlando Scorpion alum hit .349 and slugged .495 on his way to a Ferris Award and a 5th round selection by the San Diego Padres. The center fielder had an OPS of .869 during that magical 2014 run, including a grand slam in extra innings against No. 1 ranked South Carolina. Bousfield lead the team in runs, hits, OPS, and was second on the team in stolen bases and doubles in 2014.

Oh, did we mention he could cover some real estate in centerfield?

Right field - JB Woodman

Another Orlando Scorpion alum, JB earned second-team All-American honors for his 2016 campaign. He hit .323 and lead the team in runs, RBI’s, slugging percentage, OPS, homers, hits, and fielded at a .986 clip. During his final season at Swayze, he was top-three nationally in outfield assists, including a whopping seven runners thrown out at the plate. Woodman ended his career with multiple National Hitter of the Week awards, a top-10 season in total walks, and was one of just two players to record three doubles in a game this decade (the other being Mr. Alex Yarbrough).

He rounds out an outfield that will chase down just about anything. Sure, Dillard in left isn’t a speed demon but with Bousfield and Woodman out there, it’s still a plus, plus outfield

Designated hitter - Sikes Orvis

The Beer Shower Man himself. The Lord of Whiskey and Meat. The Florida native played on three teams this decade, making his mark in his sophomore campaign when the Rebels made their run to Omaha, finishing third overall. Sikes hit .294 that season, slugged 14 dingers, and drove in 53 runs. He had a .938 OPS and finished the season with 69 hits.

All he did for an encore the next season was crush 16 more bombs and drive in 53 runs again. He was a constant source of energy when he stepped up to the plate and was an instrumental leader on that 2014 team. He finished his Rebel career with 33 home runs and is the cause of a lot of well-wasted Bud Lattes in right field.

Utility - Will Allen

Another fantastic alum of Catcher U, Allen was quite the baseball-striker. After a rough first season in Oxford, the Gainesville, Fla. native went on one of the most impressive tears in Ole Miss history. He won the SEC regular season batting title in 2014, and finished the year with a blistering .339 average, 24(!) doubles, and 64 runs batted in.

Behind the plate, he was a work horse and a second manager on the diamond with the pitching staff. And if there was anything that could out-pace his bat in 2014, it was his lovely, lovely lettuce. The removal of head gear and the ensuing hair-flip that followed was enough to register on some seismographs with how women reacted to it.

Weekend rotation - Bobby Wahl, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Trent

Hoo boy, where to start here? Wahl was a machine in 2013, doing the most with a 10-0 record on the bump, 2.03 ERA and surrendering just 69 hits in 97.2 innings of work. The strikeout to innings ratio wasn’t to die for, but he was surgical with his off-speed stuff and pitching backwards with his fastball.

Arguably one of the best pitchers in the history of the program, Pomeranz set the world on fire in 2009. Despite the loaded bat era inflating the ERA above 3.00, his artistry on the mound was NSFW. The Collierville, Tenn. native struck out 124 in just 95 innings and had just a 1.28 WHIP, which he bested the following year (1.19). He’s famous for coming back in the Oxford Regional off just a few days rest to hurl a complete game, 16-strikeout gem for the ages. Oh, and in 2010, he narrowly lost the Golden Spikes Award to some dude named Bryce Harper.

Trent, another perfect record pitcher for Mike Bianco, burst onto the scene on the 2014 Omaha run, finishing the year 9-0 with a 2.05 ERA and throwing a whopping 110 innings. He never blew people away with his stuff, but he was your typical crafty lefty that folks couldn’t even figure out the third time through in the order (if they got there). His 1.04 WHIP is a testament to just how good he was that year

Reliever - Aaron Greenwood

The big fella from Southaven, Miss. was about as lights out as they come in middle-to-late relief during his time on the bump at Swayze Field. His 2014 season was impressive from start to finish, but by year’s end he was ELITE. He tossed 23.1 innings as a reliever and sported a microscopic 1.16 earned run average in SEC play, including a .177 batting average against statistic that would make most pitching coaches weep with happiness.

To further his case for this role on the All-Decade team, he had a team best 0.77 WHIP the year the Rebels made it to Omaha. He didn’t have high strikeout numbers, but in 10 appearances he made three saves and allowed just 14 hits. He essentially made four full starts and allowed just three runs.

That’ll do.

Closer - Wyatt Short

Too Short was Too Good in 2015. On a team that struggled on the back end at times. But, not when Short had the pill. The Little Engine from Southaven was lights out the entire season, closing out 10 games, winning four, and finishing with a 1.38(!) earned run average and striking out 44.

He was never overpowering but his fastball had a different kind of life on it. And coming from his minuscule 5’8 frame, it gone up in people’s kitchen in a hurry. He was a fan favorite for good reason, fist-pumping after a save so hard that you’d think he tore his rotator cuff.


So how did we do? Did we nail it or did we nail it? Comment or tweet @redcuprebellion with your starting nine and pitching staff that bests ours. And don’t forget to fire Mike Bianco.