Ole Miss is ranked as high as No. 5 nationally to start this season after a 2021 postseason that ended just one win shy of the College World Series. Gone are the two best arms from that team, Gunnar Hoglund and Doug Nikhazy, but the Rebels return a ton of talent offensively and are projected to win a very competitive SEC.
Charleston Southern meanwhile is coming off an 18-26 record that featured a number of cancelled games and zero wins in non-conference play. The Bucs are led by head coach Marc MacMillan who previously worked at Ole Miss under coach Mike Bianco from 2014-2020. MacMillan will most likely realize other than some renovations to Swayze Field, almost everything else including in-game music and videos has not changed.
Taking the mound on Friday for Ole Miss is veteran junior Derek Diamond who has pitched in numerous big games including his first start last season against No. 9 Texas. Diamond went 6 innings, struck out eight and only allowed one run in that game, but he has a career 5-5 record with a 4.88 ERA with lofty expectations on his third season.
Saturday will see transfer John Gaddis take the bump for Ole Miss after four seasons at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Gaddis led his team last season with a low 2.25 ERA, and he gives the Rebels a left-handed starter with plenty of in-game experience in the rotation. It could be too big of a moment down the road as the Rebels enter SEC play, but Bianco is a pitcher whisperer and may have found a gem in Gaddis.
I think Rebel fans were a little surprised not to see Oregon St. transfer Jack Washburn in the first weekend rotation, but junior Drew McDaniel will start Sunday with a 5-2 record and 6.08 ERA from last season. McDaniel allowed 78 hits and 22 walks over 63 innings last season, which is more than one and a half batters allowed on-base per inning. To me, the biggest issue though is 10 home runs allowed over 20 appearances and maybe just trying to place the baseball a little too perfectly.
Friday, 4pm CT (SECN+)
Ole Miss: RHP Derek Diamond
CSU: LHP Bryce Brock
Saturday, 1:30pm CT (SECN+)
Ole Miss: LHP John Gaddis
CSU: RHP Jerry Couch
Sunday, 1:30pm CT (SECN+)
Ole Miss: RHP Drew McDaniel
CSU: RHP Evan Truitt
How to watch
Where: Oxford University Stadium-Swayze Field, Oxford, Miss.
When: 4pm Friday, 1:30pm Saturday and Sunday
Online streaming: WatchESPN