If the 2023 Ole Miss baseball team were a person, it would be the sick villager in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, whose caretaker wants to put him on the death cart and move on with life, but, as the sick man keeps repeating, he’s “not dead yet.”
Despite 37 games of evidence pointing toward Ole Miss not having a postseason appearance, they are, in fact, not dead yet. Is it overwhelmingly likely they end up on the death cart by the time the gatherer of the dead comes back around? Yep!
However, there remains the slightest of chances they could recover to go for a walk and speak in a sing-song voice. Again, I want to emphasize the probability of the return of “don’t let the Rebs get hot” is somewhere in the single digits, BUT you will have to pry fan belief stupidity from my cold dead hands.
As a public servant in this department, I mapped out a path that potentially finds their way into someone else’s regional. This path doesn’t need to be followed exactly, but the end result needs to match.
Right now, Ole Miss is 3-12 in SEC play with 15 conference games to go. Last year at this time, they were 5-10. They closed the second half of conference play with a 9-6 record to get to 14-16.
Doing the math for this season, they need to finish 11-4 to match last season’s SEC record. Then, unlike last year, they probably have to win a game, maybe two, in chain-restaurant-scenic Hoover.
In order to do that, here’s how they need to perform the rest of the way:
- vs LSU (1-2)
- Sweep 2 of these 4 and go 2-1 against the other 2: Georgia, at Missouri, Auburn, at Alabama (10-2)
The combined SEC record of these 4 teams is 21-40 (Alabama is a nice 6-9, Missouri/Auburn are 5-10, and UGA is 5-11). Like Ole Miss, it’s NOT GREAT, BOB.
Digging a little deeper, these are their conference records where Ole Miss will play them:
- Georgia: 2-7 on the road
- Missouri: 4-2 at home
- Auburn: 2-7 on the road
- Alabama: 4-5 at home
Not exactly a gauntlet of doom. But, Gray, hasn’t Ole Miss lost every SEC series so far? INDEED THEY HAVE, OBSERVANT ONE.
The point is, with the level of competition after LSU, getting on even a moderate heater gives them a chance against that schedule. Now, have they shown any signs of getting on a heater? They have not!
To get on a heater of any kind, they need a return of the timely hitting we saw at the end of 2022, the bottom of the batting order to not be a wasteland (just like 2022!), and the pitching to stop bleeding out. Just minor things and such.
While the hitting hasn’t shown it can make up for lack of not being able to get outs on the mound, perhaps, just like last year, the pitching could stabilize. Hunter Elliott, who was set to be the Friday night ace, is on the verge of returning from injury, as well as reliever Riley Maddox. What they could offer is undetermined right now, but this is an exercise is potential.
Outside of those two possibly being in the mix, the pitching staff that’s been available has slowly reduced the damage it gives up. Here are the runs allowed for the first 5 SEC series:
- at Vanderbilt: 27
- vs Florida: 28
- at Texas A&M: 20
- vs Arkansas: 21
- at Mississippi State: 15
Granted, the level of competition declining is a factor, but, as delusional fans across all sports have said before, WE CAN BUILD ON THIS. If Ole Miss pitching can hold its fellow lower-tier members (not LSU) to 15-20 runs over those series, they’ll give the team a chance to follow the aforementioned path.
As I said earlier, the odds of the Rebs getting hot are not remotely in their favor, but, as a wise man said in one of the finest films to ever grace the big screen, YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE.