Oxford, Mississippi - In a thrilling pre-game ceremony, the Ole Miss Baseball
Team kicked off their game against Louisiana State University with a first pitch event that left fans cheering and players pumped up for the game ahead on April 21, 2023.
The ceremony began with the players and coaches assembling on the field, each player in their respective positions, and a special guest on the mound. The guest of honor was none other than Ole Miss alum and U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s own Sgt. Alison “Ali” Weisz, a shooter on the International Rifle Team, who had been invited to throw the first pitch of the season.
As the crowd roared with excitement, Weisz took the mound, confidently wound up and delivered a pitch that sailed straight into the catcher's mitt. The crowd erupted in applause as Weisz made her way back to the dugout, high-fiving players and coaches along the way.
“It feels amazing to be back at Ole Miss, it’s one of my favorite places,” said Weisz. “They say this is God’s favorite small town. It means a lot to me and kind of help built who I am. Being back here to represent the Ole Miss Rifle Team and the U.S. Army is cool.”
Weisz said that shooting for the Ole Miss Rifle Team helped her set personal goals like aiming to compete in the Olympics, which she did in 2020. Weisz attended Ole Miss from 2013 to 2017 and majored in nutrition.
Throwing the first pitch at a baseball game can be a nerve-wracking experience for many people. It is a significant moment that sets the tone for the game, and the pressure of performing in front of a large crowd can be overwhelming.
“Before I was going out there I was thinking… I can win a World Championship, but I’m not really sure I can throw a first pitch at a baseball game,” said Weisz. “It was an honor and very exciting to be able to shake Coach Mike Bianco’s hand, he is a legend around here.”
Weisz also signed autographs for many fans at the game. Signing autographs for fans can be a rewarding experience for many athletes. It is a chance to connect with fans on a personal level and show appreciation for their support.
“I didn’t realize that there are some people out there who keep up with my competitions and know who I am, it's very cool,” said Weisz.
The following day the Ole Miss Rifle Team and Weisz held an open house to connect with supporters and fans. Head Coach Marsha Beasley also coached Weisz when she was a senior.
“I was fortunate because when I came to Ole Miss, Ali was a senior on the team and I was able to coach her for a year,” said Beasley. “Ali was very critical in helping me as I was beginning to learn about Ole Miss. She stayed in the sport and we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve really enjoyed watching Ali’s Career and seeing how well she is doing.”
Air rifle competitions are often held at the national and international levels, with participants coming from all over the world to compete.
“Having Ali as an alum says a lot about Ole Miss. It’s inspirational for team members to know that someone who went here progressed by making the Olympic Team and winning a World Championship. Ali has been wonderful; she is always friendly to the team members when we see her at different competitions.”
Good sportsmanship is not only important for the integrity of competitions but also for personal growth and development, and helps to build a strong and supportive community of shooters.
“I’ve competed against shooters from the Ole Miss Rifle Team at the national-level competitions and I am still friends with all of them because Ole Miss is like a family no matter what,” said Weisz. “When I travel to World Cups, Kristen Derting (a shooter for the Ole Miss Rifle Team) has been to the last several and we’ve been able to hang out and get to know each other, being an Ole Miss Rebel means your family right away.”