Ole Miss is likely hosting a regional next week, but first the Rebels have to deal with the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala. this week.
First up is a date the Auburn Tigers in the late game on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 9 p.m., but if games go long, fans could benefit from a quick nap around 8 p.m. if start time is pushed later.
Doug Nikhazy will get the ball on the hill for Ole Miss (which isn’t a decision I would have made given Ole Miss likely has nothing to play for in Hoover, but, hey, I don’t make millions of dollars to decide this either), and Doug actually didn’t face Auburn earlier this year, so this will be a new sight in 2021. If you recall, our faithful son had a pectoral injury that kept him out for a few weeks early this season. Man, that feels like an eternity ago, but it happened.
Imagine if Doug’s injury had kept him out longer than that, especially with the UCL tear that Gunnar experienced a few weeks ago. Yikes.
Anyway, Ole Miss handled Auburn at Swayze Field earlier this year, sweeping the Tigers and starting its SEC slate 3-0. Today is win or go home in Hoover before the double elimination stuff starts tomorrow, and it looks like Mike Bianco is trying to survive in this tournament as long as he can as illustrated by deciding to throw Doug today.
It could theoretically help Ole Miss’ seeding as a regional host if they pick up some wins this week, but a lottttttt of work has to be done in order for them to reach the national seed conversation again. They likely need some outside help too.
As I write this, six-seed Florida and 11-seed Kentucky are playing on my television in Hoover (Kentucky is off to an abysmal start btw). No. 7 South Carolina will face No. 10 Alabama, and No. 8 Georgia will take on No. 9 LSU before Ole Miss and Auburn square off probably around the time that the horse and carriage turn into a pumpkin tonight. Seriously, it’s going to be a late one, so brew some coffee or something.
The winner of this game gets Vanderbilt tomorrow (yay), and the loser heads back home.
It’d be cool for Ole Miss to win this tournament, sure. Getting a conference tournament championship is never a bad thing, and it would likely put the Rebels back in the national seed conversation. The problem is that I don’t think this team has the pitching depth to make that happen unless some of these bullpen arms experience a miracle from God that makes them get outs at a better rate than they have throughout the season.
Still, Ole Miss has a history of playing well at the Hoover Met, so I guess anything is possible. I’m not holding my breath though.
Tonight’s game (whenever it starts) will be broadcast on the SEC Network. The time slot on TV has it starting at 8 p.m., but I doubt that will happen. Get ready for a long night.