The Rebels finally got back to their winning ways with a sweep of Furman over the weekend, though their struggles at the plate continued. The Rebels, whose .249 team batting average ranks dead last in the SEC, are averaging 1.6 runs and 4.5 hits per game over their last eight contests.
It helps that the Rebels’ Tuesday night opponent, Nicholls, is also having trouble at the plate. The Colonels, which host Ole Miss in Biloxi, Miss. at 7 p.m. CT, have the same team batting average as the Rebs. They do, however, have a guy in the lineup hitting over .300 (Alex Tucker) and another who’s mashed 15 RBIs (Gavin Wehby). Don’t sleep on this club, which has been dangerous in midweek neutral site games. In recent years, they’ve defeated LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane.
Ole Miss isn’t hitting the ball, but they can lean on pitching. The Rebels rank sixth or better in the country in WHIP (0.94), shutouts (4), strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.27), hits per nine innings (5.96) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.9). With elite freshman recruit Ryan Rolison facing off against a first-time starter, it’s a great opportunity to pick up a win and build momentum heading into this weekend’s conference-opening series against Vandy.
2 big questions
1. Can the hitters simplify their approach?
Baseball is a funny game, one in which succeeding three out of 10 times makes you great. Yet the Rebels can’t even hit that mark, and it’s not just the freshman. Returning starters like Tate Blackman, Colby Bortles, Will Golsan and Ryan Olenek are still finding their way at the plate. So what needs to change?
It may come down to simplifying their approach. At times, the Rebels have done this successfully, shortening their swings and just peppering the ball around. As long as they’re doing this and not trying to hit home runs with every swing, the averages will go back up as well as quality at-bats.
2. Is Ryan Rolison ready to take the next step?
The high-profile freshman has been impressive out of the bullpen and last week went five innings as the starter against Georgia State. If usual Saturday starter James McArthur catches the injury bug again (McArthur is expected to be back in the rotation against Vandy), Rolison could find himself in a weekend starting role.
I personally think that Rolison could compete on the weekend, but for now, he best serves this Ole Miss team in the midweek. He is a Southpaw who can sit comfortably in the low-90’s and that is something that does not come around a lot. The midweek is the best place for him now so he can log innings and work on his secondary stuff.
How to listen
First pitch: 7 p.m. CT
Online streaming: none
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (station listings here)
Online radio: IMG Sports Radio via TuneIn
Ole Miss: LHP Ryan Rolison (2-0, 2.38 ERA)
NSU: RHP Kyle Craft (0-1, 2.00 ERA)