Summer 2024

Ole Miss baseball wins national title, led by star Tim Elko: 'I can't thank Him enough'

Six months ago as the calendar turned from December to January, Ole Miss baseball star Tim Elko was asked a question on the Sports Spectrum Podcast about what he’ll become in the new year. The answer he delivered turned out to be prophetic: “Tim Elko will be a national champion.”

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On Sunday, Elko and the Rebels defeated Oklahoma for the second straight day to win the 2022 College World Series. The 4-2 come-from-behind victory was secured with three-run eighth inning followed by three consecutive strikeouts from Brandon Johnson in the ninth.

In the postgame press conference, Elko revealed that it was prayer to God and faithful encouragement from his sister, Catie, that helped him persevere through a midseason slump, which nearly kept Ole Miss out of the NCAA Tournament entirely.

“It was a crazy road to get where we are, but I remember after we lost to Mississippi State at home (April 23), I called my sister in the car and she knew that obviously we were struggling and it was kind of taking a little bit of a toll on me,” the fifth-year senior captain said. “I remember talking to her and she just said, ‘You just gotta trust God. He didn’t bring you back here for no reason.’

“I remember hanging up the phone and I was praying out loud, talking to God, and just asking Him what’s going on here. Why did I come back here? This isn’t going how I thought it was gonna go. I remember hearing one word that He was telling me in the back of my head and it was ‘believe.’ … Boy, was God right.”

After the 2021 season, Elko had a decision to make. He had already represented Ole Miss on the field for four years, but he had not accomplished his goal of bringing a national title back to Oxford for the first time in Ole Miss baseball history.

In an on-field interview amid Sunday’s celebration, Elko explained that he turned to God for guidance during that time.

“I prayed after the season last year and asked God what I should do, and He told me that my job wasn’t done here yet,” he said. “It’s because of Him that all this happened. I can’t thank Him enough, and He gives me the strength every day to push forward.”

“We won a national championship for Ole Miss and all the past players and all the fans across the country and for the state of Mississippi and for the University of Mississippi,” Elko said in the postgame press conference. “We did it. We’re national champs.”

Elko is a fan favorite among Rebels fans, many of whom want a statue of the beloved slugger. However, he is quick to say any future statue should be of the entire title-winning team.

In 2022, Elko walloped career-bests in hits (68), home runs (23) and RBIs (74) and was the unquestioned leader of the Rebels. At the College World Series in Omaha, he continued to play an important role with two home runs, one of them coming in the first game of the championship series against the Sooners on Saturday. It was a solo home run in the third inning, and while rounding the bases, he pointed skyward as he usually does.

The homer made the score 4-0. Ole Miss would go on to win, 10-3.

Elko is vocal about his faith in Christ publicly and on social media. He says he is “Living for Christ” and lists the Bible verse James 1:2-4 in his Twitter bio.

Elko’s legendary career in an Ole Miss uniform came to a storybook conclusion at the 2022 College World Series. Now with a championship trophy under his arm, he steps out into an unknown future in professional baseball. Yet he knows more than ever that God is faithful to His Word and always active in the lives of His children.

Just as he said on that Sports Spectrum Podcast six months ago, “God’s gonna love you the same forever and always, no matter what.”

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