Well, here we are again. The Ole Miss Rebels (21-21, 8-10 SEC) are sitting at .500 as they welcome in the Crimson Tide of Alabama (22-18, 7-11 SEC) for the Double Decker Arts Festival weekend. But, the good times cannot possibly roll unless the Rebels take care of business on the diamond first. As I mentioned in the NCAA tournament predictions earlier this week, the margin for error is slim to none.
On to this weekend's SEC series we go! Ole Miss will continue its schedule tour of the Yellowhammer State as the Crimson Tide come in with a RPI sitting at No. 32, a strength of schedule at No. 4 and winners of seven of their last 10. So it is safe to say that the Rebels' RPI and SOS will not take much of a hit regardless of the results, but it will in no way be a cake walk. The Tide swing it very well (.280 team batting average) and have a bit of power at the plate, but are dragged down by their starting pitching and strikeouts (325).
At the dish, Mitch Gaspard's club is led by two fellas who are up for some very prestigious hardware in Casey Hughston (.363) and Mikey White (.353). Hughston who leads Bama at the plate in average, home runs (5) and has been nominated to the Golden Spikes Award Midseason Watch List. Along with Hughston, White got in on the trophy action and has been nominated to the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, which is given to college baseball's best shortstop. He is second on the team in home runs (4) and third in RBIs (27).
On the mound, Alabama will roll out a mixed bag of experience in what should be a raucous environment at the Sway. The Friday starter will be a senior in Taylor Guilbeau who has struggled a bit at times but is well-traveled and been reliable to Gaspard for four years (9-5 career record). On Saturday, the Tide will trot out a very talented freshman in Jake Walters who has a minuscule 1.38 ERA. And on Sunday, Geoffrey Bramblett will get the pill and will go for a team-leading sixth victory of the year.
If you're a Rebel fan, this is a series that you should feel good about. Alabama is gonna pitch it at a decent clip, but not enough to scare you. The bats for Mike Bianco have been steadily improving, but have just lacked consistency. The home crowds will be a factor for sure and the Rebels could find themselves in position to sweep the Tide in Oxford for the second straight time.
How to watch
When: Saturday, 12:00 p.m. CT
Alabama: LHP Taylor Guilbeau (2-3, 3.29 ERA, 56 K, 34 BB)
Ole Miss: LHP Christian Trent (5-4, 4.09 ERA, 45 K, 18 BB)
When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Alabama: RHP Jake Walters (4-1, 1.38 ERA, 38 K, 14 BB)
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (4-2, 2.49 ERA, 59 K, 17 BB)
When: Sunday, 12:00 p.m. CT
Alabama: RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (5-2, 4.22 ERA, 40 K, 17 BB)
Ole Miss: RHP Will Stokes (1-3, 5.40 ERA, 18 K, 8 BB)