The week didn't start off quite like Mike Bianco hoped. The Rebels dropped an odd seven-inning double header to the #FreeUAB Blazers and now head to the Ozarks for a nationally-televised series against a struggling Razorback club that just might be more desperate for a series win.
Tuesday was another showing of what has caused the Rebels heartache during this young season: poor hitting with runners in scoring position and inconsistent midweek pitching. Now, granted, the Rebels didn't have very many runners on to begin with, but when they did, it wasn't pretty.
When contemplating on how to "fix" this, I remembered a certain baseball team that had similar struggles a couple years ago. The 2012 edition of the Vanderbilt Commodores started their season 7-15 and 0-4 in SEC play. With no hope in sight, Tim Corbin's club rallied the proverbial troops and earned series wins over four teams on their way to a fourth place finish in the east and runner-up in Hoover. They eventually lost the Raleigh regional championship to NC State and finished their season with a final record of 35-28.
You're probably wondering why the hell I'm talking about Vandy, but my point is simple: you can still right the ship. That Commodore team had a relatively large contingent of freshmen and sophomores that were a big part of that turnaround, this Rebel team is very similar. Now, I know that these are two completely different ball clubs that operate very differently, but hear me out. There is potential all over the place (two highest batting averages on the team are freshmen), but it is being bogged down by inexperience and inconsistency.
Whenever you get that feeling that the sky is falling and Rebel baseball is in disarray, remind yourself what this team lost from last year. The 2014 club that finally got over the hump and made it to Omaha and finished No. 3 in the country had senior leadership, hitting for days and two dudes on the back end of the bullpen that were mean as hell and threw baseballs very hard.
This year's team has plenty of offensive upside with guys like Kyle Watson, Will Golsan, Henri Lartigue and Tate Blackman, outstanding Friday and Saturday starters and two all-SEC caliber relievers. The young guns are getting experience this season that will be a building block for years to come and they will grow into their roles and become more and more comfortable at the plate and in the field.
As Aaron Rodgers once said, "R-E-L-A-X."
How to watch
When: Thursday, 6:30 p.m. CT
Ole Miss: LHP Christian Trent (4-1, 3.11 ERA, 29 K, 8 BB)
Arkansas: Dominic Taccolini (4-2, 3.21 ERA, 31 K, 9 BB)
When: Friday, 6:00 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (3-1, 1.54 ERA, 42 K, 6 BB)
Arkansas: Trey Killian (0-1, 2.16 ERA, 10 K, 1 BB)
When: Saturday, 2:00 p.m. CT
Ole Miss: TBA