#16 Ole Miss Rebels vs. #1 Florida Gators Baseball Preview

Sophomore Pitcher Karsten Whitson was named the National Freshman of the Year last season. He hasn't pitched since their opener due to injury. We don't want him to pitch against us either.

So this is it. The #1 Florida Gators (23-2, 5-1 SEC) come to Swayze field today to begin a weekend series that means a lot more to us than it does to them. The Rebels (18-7, 3-3 SEC) are certainly the underdogs against a team full of future major leaguers. Even one win in this series would be a good takeaway. Unfortunately, the Rebels need more than that.

After a disappointing series loss to the Auburn Tigers, the Rebs bounced back to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide but missed a sweep by a strike. With a 3-3 record and tougher teams ahead, this series could be a chance for the Rebels to regain momentum and get a signature series win to impress the committee later this season. It's going to be very difficult to do that, but the Rebels have had success recently against top-ranked opponents.

When Ole Miss plays top ten teams at home, they win. Since 2003, Ole Miss has won 10 of its 13 top-10 matchups. More amazingly though, the Rebels have knocked off the last two #1 overall teams to play in Oxford. In 2009, they took the series from #1 Georgia in a huge upset (which led to an awesome party on the square). In 2011, they took two of three from #1 South Carolina.

Look... no one's saying we'll win the series. No one's saying we'll even win one game. I'm just saying.... it's possible. Now on to the actual matchup.

Florida's likely weekend rotation is as follows:
Jr. RHP Hudson Randall - 3.41 ERA, 3-0 record, .248 opp ba, 34 K
Jr. LHP Brian Johnson - 3.13, 4-0, .239, 28
So. RHP Jonathan Crawford, 3.95, 2-1, .277, 27

Their Friday night starter, Randall is incredibly well-rounded. He's not a speed-based pitcher, but his fastball has some heat on it. Draft experts say he's a placement pitcher, putting the ball in places that batters can't do much with it. That's pretty terrifying.

Brian Johnson, a lefty (sorry Kirksey), is a balanced pitcher with a good changeup and fastball. When he's not pitching, he's the DH and bats .286. This guy scares me more than Randall, simply because he's a lefty. We have two lefties on roster and don't get to practice against them all that often.

Jonathan Crawford is the type of pitcher against whom Ole Miss batters generally thrive- a righty who relies on high velocity. If we're going to score significant runs this weekend, I think they'll come on Sunday.

JR RHP Austin Maddox is their closer. He has eight saves on the year with a 2.08 ERA and 28 strikeouts in only 21.2 innings. He is also batting .343 and is listed as a catcher and infielder as well as pitcher. Florida is littered with these multi-tool guys.

Right field is already full of chairs... has been since this morning. Go to the game. Get rowdy. Yell terrible things at the Florida right fielder and pitchers. If a security guard has to tell you to settle down, you're doing your job right.
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