Last week was a weird one. Ole Miss loses in the midweek to a terrible North Alabama team, then turns around and sweeps then-No. 21 Florida in dominating fashion over the weekend at Swayze. Now, the No. 11 Rebels (24-10, 8-4) return to the house after another dominating performance against Southern Miss and will host the Kentucky Wildcats (18-15, 2-10).
Despite the less than stellar conference record, Kentucky might possess the one thing that can slow down the Ole Miss bats: left-handed pitching.
Their three best pitchers by earned run average are all lefties. Cole Daniels (1.69 ERA), Zack Thompson (1.99 ERA), and Mason Hazelwood (2.25 ERA) are doing their best to help Nick Mingione’s squad win some games. Thompson is the leader on the staff, striking out 74 in 49.2 innings and sporting a 0.96 WHIP. So far this season, left-handers have been able to shake up the Rebel bats, but will it continue this weekend now that they are heating up?
We shall see.
How to watch
TV: SEC Network (Saturday)
Friday: 6:30 p.m. CT
Saturday: 7 p.m. CT
Saturday: 1:30 p.m. CT
3 things to look for this weekend
Who is Knox Loposer?
The freshman from Madison, Miss. has been a guy who might step into a game late to spell Cooper Johnson or Thomas Dillard behind the plate, but now he is potentially busting down the door for the starting lineup. In 30 at-bats this season, he is hitting .300, slugging .967, and is currently on a three-game hitting streak.
There was a hit parade in Pearl last night! pic.twitter.com/da8aLSZXd7— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) April 10, 2019
He has been a productive hitter in his few plate appearances this year. He is on time on fastballs, works counts, and does not get cheated on his hacks. I look for him to get more looks at catcher to spell Johnson and possibly even get in as a designated hitter to face left-handed pitching this weekend.
What do we do with Tyler Myers?
The other guy on the team who could be hotter than Loposer is the JUCO transfer from Texas. Since he became a thing out of the bullpen, he has allowed just two runs in 16.2 innings. During those 16.2 innings, he has allowed just seven hits, struck out 13 and walked just one. And before last weekend, the Paris Junior College product had gone 10.2 innings without surrendering a run.
Now, there is still an issue on Sunday as for as the starters role goes. So do you move Myers there? Do you keep him in the pen? If I’m making the decision, I move him to Sunday. You’ve still got Austin Miller in the pen and I personally believe that Tyler has starter stuff.
Grae Kessinger continues to prove the haters wrong.
We’ve talked about it on the podcast and you’ve seen it on the field, the man is dialed in. The Oxford, Miss. native is hitting .404 in the SEC right now with 21 hits, 12 runs scored, 7 doubles, and 13 runs driven in. On top of that, he has reached base safely in 22(!) straight games and is also on a nine-game hitting streak. And during those nine games, six have been multi-hit games.
He is now hitting .317 overall, slugging .424, and is getting on base at a .426 clip. Mike Bianco seems to be dead set on keeping Grae at the top of the order and right now who can blame him? He is absolutely locked in at the plate and will need to be patient this weekend against some left-handed pitching that will almost certainly feed him a healthy serving of off speed stuff on the outside half of the plate.