There’s 38 games in the books in the 2019 Ole Miss baseball season, but undoubtedly the final 18 will shape postseason NCAA tournament chances for the Rebels.
Sixteen of the final 18 games are against top 25 teams with the Rebels (26-12, 9-6 SEC) currently sitting as high as No. 11 nationally.
This is not a new story for Ole Miss as Southeastern Conference baseball is typically extremely competitive year in and year out, but this final stretch of games features 12 away or neutral site contests not in the friendly confines of Swayze Field. This is especially disconcerting as the Rebels are 7-6 in neutral and away games this season.
Meanwhile, the Rebels have a spectacular home record of 19-6, which will come in handy against the likes of No. 18 Texas A&M and No. 6 Mississippi State.
While the team has seemingly found more consistent play of late winning five-of-six against Arkansas and Florida, a series loss to Kentucky and an unspeakable loss against newly founded North Alabama have the Rebels on the NCAA Regional hosting bubble currently.
Baseball America’s latest projection puts the Rebels as a two seed in the Chapel Hill, N.C. regional with No. 16 North Carolina while D1Baseball’s projection is a little more favorable, putting the Rebs as a two-seed in West Virginia’s regional. This is not where any Rebel fan expected this much anticipated season to potentially end after preseason rankings put Ole Miss in the top ten nationally.
The good news is the same as the bad news in this situation for Ole Miss in that there are a lot of very good teams left to play. There’s plenty of chances to notch top 25 wins and improve on that resume, and honestly, if this team can pull off an above .500 record down the stretch, it will continue to be in the discussion for a regional hosting berth.
I’d be looking at 11 wins in this final stretch for Rebel fans to start feeling comfortable about postseason hosting chances. This would mean three out of five series wins (i.e. Auburn, Texas A&M, and Tennessee) and a 2-1 record in non-conference.
There’s also a fantastic dream of this being one of the most exciting finishes to a Rebel baseball season in recent memory. Series wins against Mississippi State or LSU would galvanize a team that had massive expectations coming in as the highest ranked recruiting classes in Ole Miss history. It would provide momentum going into the postseason, something that seems to be evade Mike Bianco teams.
But it all starts tonight with a road trip to the No. 23-ranked Auburn Tigers. The Rebels have won five of its last six against the Tigers and hold a slim 88-87 all-time record against Auburn.