Team Captain Tim Elko leading the Rebs into 2021
OXFORD, Miss. — Tim Elko is home. Not only is he back on the Ole Miss campus after COVID-19 shut down most of the world last season, he is back at home on the Swayze Field diamond. Tim Elko is at third base.
In last year’s abbreviated season, while Tyler Keenan manned third, Elko spent just part of one game at the hot corner and most of his time he roamed right field with a few appearances at first base.
Leading the Rebs into 2021
But make no mistake, third base is not foreign land for Elko.
“It’s been good that’s kind of what I’ve grown up playing and it feels good to get back over there taking reps all the time and I’m ready to play over there,” the Lutz, Fla., native said.
“I’ve always been pretty comfortable over there; I’ve been playing some outfield and some first base in years prior. I played a lot of third base in summer ball as well, so not a lot of rust to shake off.”
Tim Elko on playing third
Ole Miss needed Elko on the field and in the batting order last season as he hit .354 while the Rebels sprinted to a 16-1 record.
Head coach Mike Bianco wasted no time announcing Elko as the Rebs’ third baseman at last week’s baseball media day.
“At third base, our team captain, again, Tim Elko,” Bianco said. “I look back at Tim, he’s one of the older guys on the team and has been here for a while. He has put together two really good years. Unfortunately for our fans, they’ve only been able to see a snapshot of those two years.”
But it has been an impressive two years. As Bianco said, Elko was named captain of this year’s team which begins the season ranked fourth nationally. Like a captain, Elko heaped praise on his teammates when asked about the prospects of this season.
“The mood is really good. You know, we only lost two guys in (Keenan) and (Anthony Servideo) and we’re bringing back a lot of good players, almost the same exact team, with some even better pitching and everything that we’re adding. So, it’s a really good vibe in the locker room and we’re feeling really, really good about this year.”
Elko leads the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders to a title
Elko has had an advantage many of his teammates have not. He has played in a summer league the past few seasons.
“When you look back at the end of the 2019 season, he goes to the Northwoods League, puts up one of the best summers in that league,” Bianco said. “(He) comes in the fall of 2019 and has a great fall for us, has a great shortened 17-games last spring.”
The Northwoods League is a summer league that only allows collegiate players with eligibility to participate. The league is comprised of 20 teams in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ontario.
“(The) Northwoods League, one of the few leagues that was playing this summer,” Bianco said. “Tim goes, has another really good summer, puts another really good fall together.”
• 36 games
• 7 home runs
• 28 RBI
• 17 walks
• 6 multi-hit games
Swayze, are you ready for Elko in 2021? pic.twitter.com/F0X5Gn4eF9
— Kyle Malzhan (@KyleMalzhan) August 12, 2020
For summer 2020, as a member of the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, Elko led the team with a .351 batting average and notched the most home runs on the team (8) and drove in 32 runs while sporting a .565 slugging percentage.
The Dock Spiders captured their second league championship in the last three years and Elko was named to the 2020 Postseason All-Star Team.
Elko looking forward to Rebels’ season
But the summer is in the rearview mirror for Elko. He is looking forward to the upcoming Ole Miss season where he believes the Rebels have a great complement of offense, defense and especially pitching.
“It’s really easy to be a good offense when you have such an incredible pitching staff on the other side because we know they’re going to lock it down on their end. And we’re going to make plays behind them and they’re going to pitch their butts off but yeah, it makes doing good things on offense a lot easier.”
Elko is a senior who is scheduled to graduate this spring, but due to COVID rules, he has the option to return to Ole Miss in 2022 for an extra season of eligibility. That decision should depend on where he is selected in the major-league draft.
Should he decide to return to Ole Miss, he could spend another summer in the Northwoods League. If he heads north, Elko hopes to be a little late to the party. That league’s season begins May 31. The opening game of the College World Series is June 19.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)