While it's normal for Ole Miss and its fans to be disappointed after being eliminated from the College World Series by Virginia on Saturday, there's really nothing much for Ole Miss to be ashamed of. A team that was not even ranked in the coaches poll preseason ended up winning the SEC West, hosting a regional and being one of two conference teams to survive the first round. The Rebels then won a super regional against the No. 1 team in the country and ran almost all the way through Omaha, landing in the baseball equivalent of the Final Four.
And Virginia's 4-1 win was closer than it looked. With the Rebels leading 1-0, Ole Miss had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third when Will Allen smoked a line drive -- just within the reach of third baseman Kenny Towns. Inning over. Allen also had a chance in the bottom of the fifth, with runners on first and second and two outs, when he hit a pop-up that was basically out of play, but still close enough for first baseman Mike Papi to grab it. Two plays where a foot here or a foot there would have made all the difference.
Which is a more painful way to lose, perhaps, but also a reminder that an Ole Miss team that was an afterthought before the season was one of the better teams in the country by the end. Every pre-tournament poll had the Rebels in the Top 20, with Baseball America putting them all the way at No. 12. They will almost certainly be a Top 15 team in postseason rankings, and could make a run at the Top 10.
So things might not feel good right now. But as we said earlier, the season was not bad.