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Collierville's Jack Dougherty recaps Ole Miss College World Series championship

Dougherty helped Ole Miss capture their first baseball national title, including pitching the first game of the finals.

OXFORD, Miss — Ole Miss baseball shocked the world when it came away with its first Men's College World Series championship. It was one of the most improbable championship runs ever and it included a Collierville native playing a huge role.

A storybook championship had the only happy ending Ole Miss baseball cared about, with them on top for the first time ever. Pitcher Jack Dougherty, a Collierville High School graduate, said the title means more to Oxford than he could describe.

"We have people coming up to us telling us that their grandfather cried at the end of the game. Those people, it means the world to them and to be able to get them a championship was an unbelievable feeling," Dougherty said.

Maybe the emotions reflect Ole Miss' roller coaster season. The Rebels started the year strong. At one point, they were the No. 1 baseball team in the country.

Then, things took a turn for the worse.

"It started out great. Everyone in the locker room was confident. We knew we had all the talent in the world, but we got to a point where we weren’t really getting it done like we should’ve," Dougherty said.

That meant a 7-14 SEC conference record and an early exit in the conference tournament to equally abysmal Vanderbilt. Selection Sunday didn't look promising for the Rebels.

"We had team breakfast that morning. I don’t think anybody had a full plate. Nobody wanted to eat. Everybody was sitting there nervous," Dougherty said.

But they got a chance. Ole Miss was one of the last four teams into the tournament. They were selected for the Coral Gables Regional belonging to Miami.

As the saying goes, the Rebels got hot. They went 10-1 in the postseason en route to Omaha, and finally, the College World Series Final against Oklahoma.

In Game 1, the ball went to Dougherty.

"I got in trouble with my mom. I didn’t tell her I was starting that game. She was not too happy with me. I just tried to lock in, stay to myself and get ready to pitch in front of that many people," Dougherty said.

Over 25,000 people were in attendance for Game 1, mostly in Ole Miss powder blue. Dougherty pitched a masterful performance, five perfect innings, before allowing two runs and three hits. The Rebels won Game 1, 10-3, and swept in two games.

Now they're champions and Dougherty credits his hometown as much as his college town.

"The fans in Memphis and Collierville are just as good as the ones in Oxford. I’m so thankful to have them on my side," he said.

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