After a strong start to the season last week against the Big South favorite, they have taken care of business once again in dominating fashion over the Tulane Green Wave this weekend. The No. 9-ranked Rebels outscored the American Athletic Conference club 20-8, paced by sophomore Grae Kessinger’s scorching hot start and CooperJohnson’s dinger derby.
After a rain-soaked intermission on Friday, the Rebs continued the game and won a 5-4 contest that was dominated by Ryan Rolison (2-0) in the early-going and Dallas Woolfolk (4 saves) shut the door late, as he did in games two and three. The offensive success continued in the second and third editions of the weekend in which Ole Miss slapped five dingers on the weekend. The pitching dominance was accepted but the offense hitting so well (.307 team average) is a pleasant surprise.
This pitching well thing is going to become a thing isn’t it?
Rolo is going to win more than he loses this year. I think that is safe to say. He is now sitting at 21 strikeouts in just 10 innings pitched. That is pretty insane. He was his usual solid self on Friday, despite the rain, mixing his pitches well, toying with Tulane’s hitters, and finishing them off with either his mid-90’s fastball or his deadly slider. In case you were keeping score at home, Rolo is now sitting at 18.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Seems fine.
Saturday was more of the same with Brady Feigl. He also moved on to 2-0 on the bump and was much better than his first start against Winthrop. He is holding hitters to a .195 average and his stuff seems incredibly sharp compared to last year. His fastball has a little more jump this year and his off-speed stuff is jelly-legging hitters left and right.
Sunday was a little more of an adventure with James McArthur still struggling to find consistency, but the stuff is there. The offense just took a little while to get going. Tex is still sporting a choice 0.87 earned run average and has struck out 10 in 10.1 innings. Sunday is usually an offensive free-for-all for everyone so if James finds his stride, Ole Miss will really be cooking.
And how about that hitting?
Last year’s team struggled to get that big hit in that big spot. This year, seven games in, not so much. The Rebs are hitting .307, slugging .495, and are just under .400 in on-base percentage. But, it’s not just the numbers, the approaches are much better and the Rebs are barreling up just about everything.
Leading the charge is Kessinger. The true sophomore had a tough freshman year at the plate but he is seeing the baseball extremely well early on. He leads the team with a .464 average, 13 hits, and 19 total bases. Another sophomore is right behind him and is blistering the baseball early on.
Cooper Johnson is hitting .357, slugging .786, and has already hit two dingers (the first two of his career). He seems much more confident at the plate and is not missing much. It is absolutely imperative for Coop to stay confident and to be a threat in the middle of the lineup.
Yeah, the bullpen is good, too.
Dallas Woolfolk may not break the all-time saves record at Ole Miss, but the dude is electric. He came in and closed the door on the Green Wave in all three games this weekend, destroying anyone that got in his path. In four appearances, he has only given up three hits in four innings and has struck out seven. That’s roughly 15.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Not bad.
The biggest surprise in the early going is freshman Jordan Fowler. He has come in, shut things down, and snagged two wins. Opponents are hitting just .167 off him in and he is averaging 9 strikeouts per nine innings. The 6’3 Southpaw has been crafty, spotting his low-90’s fastball at the knees, and utilizing his wipeout curveball to put people away. He will be used more and more in lefty matchups this season but might be a weekend guy before we know it the way he is throwing it.