Ole Miss picked up its first loss of the season in a sloppy, error-heavy affair against Memphis this week, but what better opportunity to bounce back than to take on a pair of top-10 teams in an MLB stadium? The Rebels are off to Houston this weekend for the 2017 Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic, where they’ll face No. 1 TCU, No. 10 Texas Tech and an undefeated Baylor club at Minute Maid Park.
Also joining the Rebs in Houston are No. 4 LSU and No. 21 Texas A&M, though none of the SEC schools will face each other. The way this works is that each of the three SEC teams takes turns playing each of the three Big 12 clubs. With five of the six teams showing up in our composite top 25, this feels a lot like a mini Omaha.
That means its a huge opportunity for all teams involved. Ole Miss, which has already swept two ranked teams thus far and sits at No. 1 in the early RPI rankings, could emerge as a bona fide Omaha contender if its able to win a couple games this weekend.
TV and online streaming
All games will be broadcast on FSN and live streamed on FOX Sports Go.
Full tournament schedule
Baylor 4, Ole Miss 0
Texas A&M 9, Texas Tech 0
TCU 9, LSU 6
Texas Tech 5, Ole Miss 1
LSU 4, Baylor 0
TCU 11, Texas A&M 10
Texas Tech 5, LSU 4
TCU 5, Ole Miss 3
Baylor 6, Texas A&M 3
The teams Ole Miss will play
After going a horrendous 24-29 last season, the Bears have roared out the gates to a 9-0 start. The Bears are coming off an impressive series sweep over a pretty good South Alabama team, so its not as if they’re schedule has been complete trash. Steve Rodriguez’s club is hitting like it’s 2007 (.339 team average) and the pitching staff is doing just enough to keep them in games (3.22 team ERA). They’re an opportunistic bunch that can drive in runs from top-to-bottom.
No. 18 Texas Tech
Texas Tech returns five every day players and two studs in the rotation from a team that won 47 games and went to Omaha last year. They’ve jumped out to a 9-1 record on the back of their offense, which is hitting .309 as a club. Arguably their best everyday player, junior infielder/outfielder Tanner Gardner, is dead last on the team (.150), which means they’ll get even more dangerous when he comes around. They also throw it pretty well (team ERA under 3.00) which in turn helped them go 3-1 in an early season tournament in Starkville, including a two-game split with the Bulldogs.
No. 1 TCU
The unanimous top team in the country is coming off a 49 win campaign and an Omaha trip of their own last season. They return their entire 2016 lineup except one, three of those returners who have combined for 20 RBI’s and five home runs already. On the mound, the Horned Frogs are paced by freshman phenom Nick Lodolo (2-0, 2.70 ERA) and sophomore Jared Janczak (2-0, 2.77 ERA). And you can bet the rest of Jim Schlossnagle’s staff is just as talented as he has produced arms like Jake Arrieta, Brandon Finnegan and Matt Purke.