By Adam Brown
The No. 12 national seed Ole Miss Rebels head to Fayetteville to take on a familiar SEC foe, the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks, in the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals. The Rebels and Razorbacks will take the diamond in a best-of-three series starting Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.
Ole Miss (40-25) stormed through the Oxford Regional as they posted 41 runs in three games against Jacksonville State, Clemson and Jacksonville State.
The Rebels led the country in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and runs per game during the NCAA Regional round. The Rebels were also top five in walks, runs, hits and home runs.
Junior Thomas Dillard has been on a tear since the move to the top of the batting order.
“It has taken a little bit of pressure off of me knowing that I have some great hitters behind me,” Dillard said. “I’m trying to get on base and let the other guys drive me in. I think our offense had some success since moving up there.”
Ole Miss is 8-1 in their last nine games and they are 17-5 on the season. The diamond Rebels have worn powder blue uniforms in all but one game in the postseason, including each of the last seven games. The last time the Rebels wore a uniform other than powder blue was in their second game of the SEC Tournament, which resulted in a 5-3 loss to Arkansas. Ole Miss will wear powder blue all weekend in Fayetteville.
Arkansas (44-17) comes in after a clean sweep through the Fayetteville Regional over Connecticut and back-to-back wins over TCU.
The Razorbacks are led at the plate this season by junior Dominic Fletcher who enters the series with a .312 batting average, 77 hits and 10 home runs on the season. Arkansas comes in hitting .299 as a club on the season.
Arkansas ace Isiah Campbell enters the weekend with a 2.27 ERA in over 103 innings on the hill. The redshirt junior has fanned 108 batters during that time.
Ole Miss and Arkansas have met 96 times coming into the Fayetteville Super Regional. The Razorbacks hold a 49-47 lead in the all-time series. The series includes five meetings in 2019, with the Rebels holding a 3-2 edge.
“We have played them a lot and we match up well against Arkansas,” Dillard said. “(Arkansas) is really talented, just like us.”
The Rebels and Hogs put on a terrific series at Baum Stadium earlier this season. Isaiah Campbell and the Razorback pitching staff limited Ole Miss to three runs on six hits in a 5-3 Game 1 win. The Rebels came back with a nearly identical pitching performance in a Game 2 victory. Doug Nikhazy, Austin Miller and Parker Caracci combined to hold the Razorbacks to three runs on six hits as Ole Miss edged out a 4-3 win. Home runs by Tyler Keenan and Cole Zabowskiput the visitors in position, then Grae Kessinger’s RBI double off the walk gave Ole Miss a 4-3 win to even the series.
This weekend, Ole Miss will send to the mound Will Ethridge (Saturday), Doug Nikhazy (Sunday) and Gunnar Hoglund (Monday). The Razorbacks will call on the arms of Campbell (Saturday), Connor Noland (Sunday) and Patrick Wicklander (Monday).
Game times are slated for Saturday at 11 a.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 3 p.m.
Hottytoddy.com intern Jackson Solari contributed to this reportSign up to receive Hottytoddy.com morning and evening headline emails HERE!