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What we learned about Ole Miss following its series loss to Alabama

OXFORD — Two years ago, “7-14” became a springboard for Ole Miss baseball. This time around, head coach Mike Bianco is still searching for the qualities that made the 2022 squad so special in this year’s team. Namely, consistency.

Ole Miss dropped two of three to No. 23 Alabama at Swayze Field this week, losing the opener and finale while taking the middle game. The Rebels (23-20, 7-14) were outscored 22-3 in the two losses, including a run-rule loss in the first game. The middle game saw the Rebels battle back in a 9-8 win that featured four different lead changes.

The last time Ole Miss found itself at 7-14 in SEC play was, of course, in 2022, when the Rebels caught fire late in the season, snuck into the NCAA Tournament despite a 14-16 record in conference play and went onto win the program’s first College World Series crown. That season, the Rebels fell to 7-14 after a series at Arkansas. They then swept series against Missouri and at LSU and won a midweek matchup at Southern Miss before dropping two of three to Texas A&M to close the season.

Bianco and his team are well aware of the narrative surrounding the program.

“They’re aware. They’re aware, and … you’ll all write about it, about the 7-14, and that’s true,” Bianco said. “The good news is there’s proof in fact that the season’s not over and you have an opportunity. They all know that. They know that story. Some of them lived that story. But the truth of the matter is, that was that team.”

Ole Miss plays Mississippi State for the Governor’s Cup Wednesday in Pearl at 6 p.m. before starting a three-game series at Auburn Friday. After Auburn, Ole Miss finishes its regular season with series against No.1 Texas A&M and at LSU.

The biggest difference between the 2022 Rebels and the 2024 edition, Bianco said, is simple. It’s showing up every single day ready to work regardless of how things are going on gameday.

Ole Miss has an 8.33 ERA in SEC play — which is last in the conference — and the worst fielding percentage in SEC games.

“You go back to the ’22 team, and not because we’re 7-14 or anything like that, but one of the things we’ve always said about that team was, they showed up every day,” Bianco said. “They were very consistent in the way they approach, the way they approach the game, the way they approach everything. This team’s too inconsistent. And that’s part of the reason that you have hope. … We have it in us to play well. We just need to play well more often.”