Ole Miss will head on the road to Pearl, Mississippi, for a mid-week matchup with Southern Miss as they’ll look to bounce back from getting swept by the rival Mississippi State Bulldogs this past weekend. For the first time this season, the Rebels find themselves unranked and looking to climb back into the Top 25. With Alabama coming to Oxford this weekend, the Rebels have some work to do to get back to their winning ways.
Against the Bulldogs, the Rebels had their chances to turn their fortunes around late in games but were unable to convert. A three-run 7th inning gave the Bulldogs the lead on Thursday, but the Rebels rallied in the 9th to get the tying and potential game-winning run into scoring position, but it amounted to nothing, and the Rebels fell. Friday’s game looked to be a turning of the tide as the Rebels posted 11 hits, but they couldn’t hit when runners were on base. The hits amounted to just three runs and once again, Ole Miss failed to deliver when it mattered the most. Both Rebel Captains, Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles came up in the 9th with a chance to tie the game, but both were retired, and the game was over.
The Rebel offense came back down to earth on Saturday, totaling just four hits with two of them coming in the final frame. Once again the Rebels had runners in scoring position, but a spectacular play by the Bulldog first baseman ended the game.
The question for the Rebels becomes, not only can they hit, but can they hit when the pressure is on and the game is on the line? Until I see any differently, I have to assume that they can’t. These types of growing pains are to be excepted with any young team, and I’m looking forward to seeing them mature as the season goes on. At 16-12, the Rebels are in good shape to right the ship and be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC.
The recent struggles are concerning but certainly not unfixable. Patience is a virtue, and it’s one the Rebels are getting a lengthy lesson in right now. Tonight against Southern Miss, Ole Miss must continue to work to get runners in scoring position to work on these timely hitting situations. Getting more aggressive on the base paths may be a good idea to put the pressure back on the Golden Eagle defense and keep them on their heels.
Southern Miss comes in as the highest ranked team in the state at 17th in the country boasting an impressive 24-5 record overall. The Golden Eagles offense will give the Rebel pitchers trouble, as they average 11 hits a game. With 44 home runs, their lineup is always a threat to hit one out of the park. Getting the start for Southern Miss will be RHP Taylor Braley. Braley has a 3-0 record and 4.05 ERA on the season, but that’s not all. Braley is also a threat at the plate, with a .343 average, eight home runs and 26 RBIs.
Greer Holston will get the start for the Rebels. Holston is still searching for his first win of the season, as he is currently 0-2. His record is partially due to a lack of run support; his ERA sits at 2.28 in 23.2 innings of work.
Tonight’s game is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. from Trustmark Park, home of the Mississippi Braves. The game will not be televised but can be heard on the Ole Miss Radio Network and OleMissSports.com.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.