As I write this column, I am sitting on the couch with my dog Swayze while the Ole Miss Rebels (who play in her namesake stadium) have lost three-straight SEC series and sit at 9-6 in conference play at the halfway point.
We all knew that the stretch of Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi State were going to be tough, especially with two of those series coming on the road, but after having swept Alabama and Auburn to start SEC play, the Rebels were in a position where they could afford to lose some games and take some lumps. We all said that out loud as a collective unit, but deep down inside, we wanted at least two series wins out of that stretch.
WELL ,,, WE DIDN’T GET THEM, DID WE?
Tim Elko tore his ACL, Max Cioffi needs Tommy John, the bullpen can’t seem to get outs unless your name is Taylor Broadway, and Ole Miss seemingly-gifted a game to Mississippi State last Sunday. Not great! Bad, even!
Still, I am here to tell you that all hope is not lost, and everything the Rebels want to play for is still very much in play. Let me break it down for you.
Ole Miss is still very much a regional host team (barring the NCAA being idiots)
This year is a little different as far as host sites are concerned because they’re predetermined by the NCAA because of something to do with COVID idk. Those will be announced in early May before the regular season is even finished. Regional hosts, national seeds, all of it. So instead of the typical recent Ole Miss fashion of farrrrrrting late in the regular season and going absolutely bonkers in Hoover and the committee being like “sure,” the Rebels have to make their case and make it quick over the next three weekends. FORTUNATELY, Florida, Arkansas and Mississippi State have all been played and, per sources, cannot be played again until Hoover, and even though the SEC is always a gauntlet, the next three weeks should be less of one, comparatively.
Here’s the schedule.
- April 22-24 — vs. LSU
- April 30-May 2 — vs. South Carolina (pronounced “Sakeralina”)
- May 7-9 — at Texas A&M
The combined conference records of these teams is 18-27 with 10 of those wins being South Carolina’s. LSU and Texas A&M are both four-and-eleven which isn’t good, and even though SC has 10 conference wins, I think Ole Miss is better than the Gamecocks, especially at home.
Go get these three series and even some sweeps maybe possibly, and you’re a host. I feel pretty confident in that.
Can we talk about a national seed?
Sure, I guess we can. I mean, I’m not sold that Ole Miss is going to be one regardless of what happens because the NCAA will have decided that before the Rebels play Vandy, but if some things bounce your way and you tear it up over these next three weeks, I guess? Tbh I’m not really sure because of how weird this year is. Will the NCAA value that Ole Miss has played a hellish schedule and give them the benefit of the doubt? Or will they say, “nah, you had three chances back-to-back and blew them all.” Who knows?
Even without a national seed...
The last time Ole Miss made it to Omaha (2014) it wasn’t a national seed. The Rebels had to go down to Lafayette to punch their ticket to Nebraska, and they did just that. Be a regional host and draw a decent pairing in the tournament, and go win two games. With Gunnar and Doug on the hill (and frankly with how the team is hitting even in Elko’s absence), and that’s entirely doable. Just have to go and do it.
I know that we’re all used to Ole Miss baseball being the equivalent of being awake for your own vasectomy, but don’t press the panic button yet. This team has some holes (as most teams do) especially in the bullpen, but they’ve lost to some pretty good teams these last three weeks, two of which came on the road and one of which was against probably the best team in the country. Go get some wins, and don’t get discouraged. This thing is doable.