Conference Coaches Voted Ole Miss Infielders to Second Team
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With opening day for the 2017 Ole Miss baseball season just eight days away, infielders Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles were named Preseason All-SEC by the conference coaches. The two Rebels were selected to the preseason all-conference second team, the league office announced Thursday afternoon.
A pair of team captains, Blackman and Bortles have been mentioned as players to watch during the 2017 season. Bortles was named a Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball, while D1Baseball.com ranked the senior as the No. 12 third baseman in the country. D1Baseball.com also listed Blackman on its Preseason All-SEC list as well as the No. 23 second baseman in its national power rankings.
Blackman had a breakout season a year ago, hitting .322 to earn second team All-SEC honors. The Altamonte Springs, Florida, native started all 62 games at second base and put together 21 multi-hit contests. He also led the conference in sacrifice flies with seven, a mark that ranked 19th nationally. Blackman finished the 2016 campaign with 74 hits, 48 runs, 38 RBI, 13 doubles and three home runs.
Through two seasons as a Rebel, Blackman has appeared in 101 games with a .278 career batting average. He’s a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll as a criminal justice major.
Last season, Bortles paced the Rebels in doubles with 21, ranking second in the SEC as well as fifth in Ole Miss history for a single season. He produced 14 multi-RBI games and totaled 50 on the year, which ranked 15th among SEC hitters. After hitting seven homers as a sophomore, Bortles belted eight last season to go along with a .475 slugging percentage. He finished the season on a high note with multiple accolades, earning spots on the SEC All-Tournament team and the NCAA Oxford Regional All-Tournament team.
Bortles is the lone Rebel in the program that was part of the 2014 squad the made the College World Series, where he made a start in Omaha as a freshman. The Oviedo, Florida, native has appeared in 158 games through his first three seasons as a Rebel, making 129 starts. As a .272 career hitter, Bortles is known for his power at the dish with 34 career doubles and 17 career home runs.
With the Rebels having to replace six players that were selected in the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, the conference coaches predicted Ole Miss to finish third in the SEC West as part of their preseason poll.
Blackman, Bortles and the rest of the No. 8 Rebels will kick off the 2017 campaign Feb. 17 at home against East Carolina. The top-10 matchup at Swayze Field is slated for a 4 p.m. first pitch, and tickets are still on sale.
2017 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll (first-place votes in parentheses)
1. Florida(10)– 70
2. South Carolina (4) – 61
3.Vanderbilt – 52
T-4. Georgia – 29
T-4. Kentucky – 29
6. Tennessee – 20
7. Missouri – 12
1. LSU (13) – 72
2. Texas A&M (1) – 55
3. Ole Miss – 51
4. Mississippi State – 36
5. Arkansas – 27
T6. Alabama – 16
T6. Auburn – 16
SEC Champion: Florida (6), LSU (6), South Carolina (2)
2017 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team
C: Mike Rivera, Florida
1B: Evan White, Kentucky
2B: Cole Freeman, LSU
SS: Dalton Guthrie, Florida
3B: Jonathan India, Florida
OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State
OF: Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt
OF: Antoine Duplantis, LSU
DH/UTL: JJ Schwarz, Florida
SP: Alex Faedo, Florida
SP: Kyle Wright, Vanderbilt
RP: Tyler Johnson, South Carolina
C: Jason Delay, Vanderbilt
1B: JJ Schwarz, Florida
2B: Tate Blackman, Ole Miss
SS: Kramer Robertson, LSU
3B: Colby Bortles, Ole Miss
OF: Greg Deichmann, LSU
OF: Brent Rooker, Mississippi State
OF: Luke Bonfield, Arkansas
DH/UTL: Alex Destino, South Carolina
SP: Alex Lange, LSU
SP: Tanner Houck, Missouri
RP: Matt Ruppenthal, Vanderbilt