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On Deck: South Carolina

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Southeastern Conference baseball season will reach its halfway point with the conclusion of the upcoming weekend.

The SEC Western Division race remains in a dead heat between LSU, Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss.

Arkansas, LSU and Auburn boast strong RPI's at 2, 17 and 20 respectively. Ole Miss, however, brings up the tail end at the 44 spot.

Only two games separate the Tigers and the Rebels though, and there is more than enough time for any of these four teams to rise to the top. LSU and Arky have a good shot to increase the gap this weekend hosting series against Alabama and Georgia, respectively.

The Rebels and Wareagleplainstigers hit the road against #5 South Carolina and Vanderbilt to face top 25 opponents in unwelcoming environments.

One massive issue(Sunday) looms against the Rebels, but there is another problem facing Ole Miss, which has not received much publication.

Ole Miss has to have two more hitters step up offensively in conference play. There is little power in the batting order outside of Matt Smith who has the ability to take pitches out of the park. The Rebels only have four players averaging more than two total bases per game in SEC action: Smith, Tim Ferguson, Kevin Mort and Zach Miller.

The next two in that stat line? Freshman Alex Yarbrough and the much-maligned David Phillips.

This is not to say the Rebels are completely inept of offensive ability. I think the aforementioned Smith/Ferguson/Mort/Miller bunch were meant to clear the bases for the other five players who I see as table setters.

Mort and Ferguson are ripping the extra base hits, but they aren't getting the RBI in the process. This is most likely due to an inability to string together some continuity offensively through the line-up. Batting averages are not what they should be for the likes of Matt Snyder(who is the unluckiest guy in the SEC this season), Taylor Hightower, Taylor Hashman or Phillips. 

If two of these four players can get marginally hot over the next six baseball weekends, the Rebels could put together an above .500 record to close out the season. The current effort, however, could render a sub-.500 outcome in my opinion.

But this weekend, we are focused in on the #5 Cocks. Most of us Cuppers will be in Oxford, so if anything, we will have a radio pressed to our ears while drunk at the spring game. At the very least, we might recap this weekend on Monday using poorly written press releases and box scores.

FRIDAY, 6:00 P.M. 
USC – Blake Cooper, Sr., RHP
OM – Drew Pomeranz, Jr., LHP

Pomeranz gives the Rebels our second best chance to win this weekend. He's the midseason national player of the year. Cooper is pretty stinking fantastic as well, and he won't give Ole Miss much help. Please give POM four runs to work with and we'll take this one. Rebels win, 4-2.

SATURDAY, 2:00 P.M. (SPORTSOUTH)
USC – Sam Dyson, Jr., RHP
OM – Aaron Barrett, Sr., RHP

Barrett had one of his best outings of the year last week against UGA. He's really stepped up his ability since last season. Dyson has a huge ERA, nearing six runs, but he can flat out strike out just about anyone. This will be our best chance to win, in my opinion. Hopefully, it is not squandered. Rebels win, 6-3.

SUNDAY, 12:30 P.M.
USC - Jay Brown, Sr., RHP
OM – TBA

Cleat-chasers, stop going after TBA. He's 0-3. No more loving for him until he wins a ball game. It won't happen this week either though. If the Rebels win the first two as I'm predicting, Sunday will be a bloodbath. Cocks destroy us, 11-3.

Thoughts? Concerns? Comments?