After last week's disappointing series loss in Fayetteville that saw the fellas lose two out of three games to the Hogs, the Ole Miss Rebels (15-14, 4-5 SEC) return home to battle the Tennessee Vols (12-13, 2-7 SEC) for somewhat of a fork in the road type series that can really set the tone for the rest of the season.
According to Mike Rooney of PerfectGame.com, the Diamondbearz are currently sitting in the standing of receiving an at-large bid from the NCAA Tournament committee. With a record one game over .500 and a RPI ranked 19th, the Rebels aren't in terrible shape as they head for the homestretch of the season. With series remaining against the likes of Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State, you have to feel good about taking two games from any of those clubs. Also, you have to think that the Rebels No.1 ranked strength of schedule will help them down the road when the committee is looking to select the field.
The Vols come in to Oxford on an eight-game road stretch and are looking for some consistency, just like Mike Bianco's club. The Rebels last tangled with the Basevols in 2013 when they swept them in Knoxville. Although the visiting team comes in on a bit of a limp, they are not ones to be taken lightly.
Dave Serrano's club brings in an offense that has three extremely talented bats to face off against the Rebel arms. Sophomore infielder Nick Senzel leads the team with a .361 average and 35 hits. Tennessee is also paced by two outfielders from the Peach State, juniors Vincent Jackson (.321, 7 SB) and Christian Stewart (.302, 8 HR). These three, along with junior infielder A.J. Simcox (.281, 27 hits), set the table for Serrano's club as they like to get on base and challenge you with their speed (30 SB).
In order for the Rebels to have success against an underrated lineup, they will need to take the same approach they had against the Florida Gators two weeks ago which saw the Ole Miss pitchers attack the strike zone early in the count and go right at the opponent's best hitters. Christian Trent and Brady Bramlett both did an excellent job of working the inside half against the Gators and making them uncomfortable at the dish. This weekend will need to be more of the same.
How to watch
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m. CT
Tennessee: RHP Kyle Serrano (2-3, 3.80 ERA, 22 K, 15 BB)
Ole Miss: LHP Christian Trent (4-2, 3.74 ERA, 30 K, 8 BB)
When: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. CT
Tennessee: RHP Bret Marks (3-3, 2.35 ERA, 53 K, 13 BB)
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (4-1, 1.54 ERA, 47 K, 8 BB)
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m. CT
Tennessee: LHP Drake Owenby (1-3, 3.31 ERA, 30 K, 9 BB)
Ole Miss: TBA