Last week sucked.
The Rebels took it to Southern Miss in Pearl and all looked well heading into the weekend series at home against Kentucky. Well, it wasn’t. No. 19 Ole Miss (27-15, 10-8) dropped two-of-three against the Wildcats in rather ugly fashion, losing two seven-inning games. The offense, albeit hitting .291 collectively, is in sleep mode when runners are on base and the pitching staff is running on fumes as of late.
Now, after losing a midweek game in embarrassing fashion to No. 9 Mississippi State, the No. 6-ranked Aggies of Texas A&M are in town and they’re no slouch either. Our good, good boys are running out of opportunities to win games and are consistently sliding down the NCAA Tournament seeding scale as well.
Can they turn it around this weekend? They don’t really have a choice.
How to watch
TV: SEC Network (Thursday)
Thursday: 8 p.m. CT
Friday: 6:30 p.m. CT
Saturday: 1 p.m. CT
3 things to look for this weekend
What exactly is Mike Bianco doing with this lineup?
The days of going righty-lefty and playing upper-classmen because that’s what you’ve always done are long-gone. Guys like Chase Cockrell and Tim Elko and Michael Fitzsimmons are hitting a combined .170 and have yet to prove they are worthy of garnering any at-bats. Play the young guys. Josh Hall (.263, 6-for-6 stolen bases) and Knox Loposer (.243, 8 RBI’s) have shown much more promise and are the future. Play them.
And for the love of God, play Anthony Servideo every day in centerfield. He’s now hitting .297 and is an absolute terror on the bases when he gets on (.434 on-base percentage). That speed can be put to use out there in the green grass and will take the pressure off of Ryan Olenek who is still banged up.
Lastly, let’s try and throw a series backwards for once. Will Ethridge has gone longer than six innings this year TWICE and Doug Nikhazy is showing much more longevity. Throw your freshman in game one and let Ethridge settle in for a game two. What’s the worst that can happen, you lose a series? Well, guess what...
Josh Hall deserves more playing time.
After Justin Bench got hurt, the next man up this season was the freshman from Alabama. Known for his speed (all-time high school stolen base leader nationally), he showed plenty of pop at the plate against Auburn. He’s also a capable fielder in the outfield and could spell the injured Olenek for a few more games, playing right field.
The future is Hall and he needs as many at-bats and chances in the field as he can get. He did some good things offensively against Auburn and he’s not too shabby at defense.
Ole Miss really needs Ryan Olenek back.
He still leads the Rebels in batting average but he is still not 100%. Ole Miss needs their table-setter in the lineup regularly again and they really, really need him to be back on his bullshit. His .364 average, .476 slugging percentage, and .436 on-base percentage is sorely missed and he is somewhat of a leader despite his laid-back personality.
If the Rebs are going to make any run at all in the coming weeks and in the postseason, Olenek will need to be involved. No doubt.