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OMAHA, Neb. – Ole Miss might not be playing a baseball game Tuesday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean it’s an off day. Thanks to a 13-5 win over Arkansas Monday night, the Rebels get to experience the benefits of being 2-0 in Omaha and watch as the Hogs take on Auburn in the losers bracket game.
Ole Miss was back to business as usual Tuesday morning, getting in another practice session at the Creighton Sports Complex. And for Peyton Chatagnier and this team, being 2-0 is nowhere close to their ultimate goal.
Ole Miss has never won a national championship in baseball, that’s no secret. And midway through this season, it looked like the Rebels would not even have the chance.
At 7-14 in the SEC, Ole Miss was not even in the conversation to make the NCAA tournament, much less make it to Omaha. But the team never quit fighting. And perhaps no one demonstrated that fight more than the “little engine that could,” Peyton Chatagnier.
We had a chance to talk with Chatagnier this morning about the goals for the Rebels and the chance to make history.
“At the very beginning, even in the fall, our goal wasn’t just to get to Omaha. Our goal was to win the whole thing, to be the first team to ever do it for us. I think we all really want it really, really bad and I think it makes it even cooler with the season we’ve had. So I think everybody wants it maybe even a tick more now. It’s hard to explain because we play loose, but we’re also serious while we’re playing loose. We’re in a good spot right now.”
Part of the reason the Rebels are in such a good spot is the defense of Chatagnier. Peyton has committed just three total errors for the entire season. The last one? Way back on February 27th against VCU.
His ability to lock down the infield and play the shift superbly has been a major contributor to the success Ole Miss has enjoyed.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 21, 2022
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 7, 2022
Peyton talked with us about his mindset as a defender.
“I think the biggest thing, not even in just fielding but in all of baseball, comes down to your mindset. I think a lot of it is just confidence. At this level, anybody is able to field a ground ball, everybody has the mechanics to field a ground ball. I think it’s more so just the confidence in getting a lot of reps in and that kind of stuff. I like to also credit coaches, but also some of the players. I’ve learned a lot from just being around a lot of these guys and the way everybody else fields and different things like that. It wasn’t necessarily easy to transition to second when I first went over there, but it’s something I’ve just grown to be real comfortable with now.”
The Ole Miss players, particularly the seniors, are obviously enjoying this ride. But none of them would even be at Ole Miss if it wasn’t for head coach Mike Bianco. Chatagnier talked about his coach and what it means for him to be in Omaha with a legitimate chance at a title.
“He’s done a lot as a coach, and I think this is kind of his final thing that he wants to get done and it would be super cool for us to be able to do that for him. I mean you can tell how much he wants it, and it’s something that he really cares about and he’s cared about for a long time. I remember being so happy we won after the Super Regional and he was all excited and I was just like ‘wow, this is really cool.’ You could tell how much he cares about it and cares about us. It’s really special.”
Peyton Chatagnier on Coach Bianco
The Rebels have plenty of work left to do, but they’re riding high with the 2-0 start. Ole Miss will face either Arkansas or Auburn on Wednesday night, both of whom they’ve already seen in Omaha.
But despite the two victories, Chatagnier said the Rebels won’t be taking either of them lightly.
“The thing with baseball, and especially with these two SEC teams that we’re playing, is that anybody can beat anybody on any given day. So we might have a little bit of confidence just because we’ve played both of them already, but we know they’re still good teams. We know they’re in here for a reason, and we’re not going to take them lightly.“
Peyton Chatagnier on Arkansas and Auburn
The Rebels will face either the Razorbacks or the Tigers Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN. Coach Bianco has yet to announce a starting pitcher for the contest and will wait to see who the Rebels face before making that announcement.
As Tim Elko said, and Chatagnier reiterated, the Rebs are hot.
The Rebs are hot, man 🔥 pic.twitter.com/of1g2NPIRn
— Ole Miss Athletics (@OleMissSports) June 5, 2022
Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.