The overall theme for the Diamondbearz this season has been a club that can really pitch it and that’s about it. Mike Bianco’s club (20-12, 6-6 SEC) entered the weekend’s series against Alabama with a .242 team batting average and only a couple regular starters even remotely close to the .300 mark. But, instead of falling into the same funk they have during the first 29 games of the year, the Rebels swept the visiting Crimson Tide all the while they banged out 27 hits and 20 runs.
Yes, it is no secret that Bama is last in the Western Division and not exactly the most formidable opponent, but at this point, the Rebels are going to take whatever positive vibes they can get, especially on offense. Although the team average only jumped to the .247 mark, sophomore catcher Nick Fortes is now hitting at a .319 clip, junior Tim Rowe is at .314 and top of the order mainstays Will Golsan (.287), Ryan Olenek (.281), Tate Blackman (.277) and Colby Bortles (.276) all had much better approaches at the plate and it is starting to be reflected in their numbers.
Next, Ole Miss will hit the road to face LSU, Arkansas and Florida with a home series against Missouri mixed in. The main takeaway from a home sweep against cellar-dwelling Alabama is that the offense showed signs of a pulse and smashed some extra base-hits and made the Tide pay when given an opportunity with runners in scoring position. Now, they will have to do that against some elite pitching staffs on the road and a legit first-rounder at home. At this moment, Ole Miss is on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA Tournament (No. 51 RPI). But, if they can steal some wins on the road and keep pace with their home series, some magic could happen.
The No. 16 Southern Miss Golden Eagles (26-7, 10-2 C-USA) are coming off a series win against Florida International and will look to avenge last week’s midweek loss at the hands of the Rebels. Scott Berry’s squad is led at the plate by Taylor Braley (.339, 8 HR, 29 RBI), Matt Wallner (.336, 11 HR, 30 RBI) and Dylan Burdeaux (.329, 6 HR, 35 RBI). They hit .307 as a team and gave Ole Miss’ stellar pitching staff all it could handle last week in Pearl.
How to listen
First pitch: 7 p.m. CT
Online streaming: C-USA TV ($)
Radio: Ole Miss Radio Network (station listings here)
Online radio: OleMissSports.com
Ole Miss: RHP Greer Holston (0-2, 3.18 ERA)
USM: RHP Taylor Braley (3-0, 4.26 ERA)