March 30, 2017 7:46:07 AM
As a quick notice before we dive into this: the weather report for Thursday is pretty nasty. A friend of mine in the meteorology field even told me that the storms coming through have the potential to produce tornadoes. I'm not going to tell you to cancel plans to travel to Oxford for Thursday night's game, but it might be in your best interest to keep up with the weather and think about what to do if you don't go to the game.
Ole Miss' hitting struggles have been pretty well documented: the Rebels enter the weekend 13th in the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.246) and rank 226th in the nation out of 295 teams. Now, consider Ole Miss has three teams in D1baseball.com's Top 25 on its teams played to date list and one more that just moved out of the top 25 in Baylor. Plus, its two SEC opponents to date -- Kentucky and Vanderbilt -- have WHIPS (walks and hits allowed per inning) that rate in the top 25 in the nation. It's safe to stay this lineup has lacked luster for most of the season.
That being said, there have been some hot bats in conference play, primarily Colby Bortles. He's played all six conference games and hit .400 while drawing five walks, more than any other Rebel in conference play. Not that any team is particularly looking an on-base guy in its 4-hole, where Bortles was for the entire Kentucky series last weekend, but it's worth knowing.
Something else noteworthy: leadoff hitter Will Golsan has been struggling, with an on-base percentage of .308 in conference play.
First of all: Ole Miss' projected starters for the weekend all have ERAs under 2. Let that rattle around your brain for a minute.
The pitching numbers so far this year -- second in the SEC in ERA at 2.82, best in the league with a .207 batting average allowed -- are stout, but there is a notion that they have come against weaker lineups. I'm not sure I buy that entirely -- the Rebels pitched really well in three-game series against East Carolina and Kentucky, two lineups ranked in the top 20 nationally in batting average -- but there is some of that sprinkled into this schedule. For example, UNC Wilmington is in the bottom half nationally in batting average yet put 12 runs on Ole Miss in being swept in that series back in February, and Vanderbilt is one of the bottom lineups in the conference and scored six and eight runs in the final two games of that series.
Ole Miss' projected starting lineup is sophomore righty James McArthur, junior lefty David Parkinson and freshman lefty Ryan Rolison. McArthur is an interesting watch this weekend, since he made his first start in two weeks last weekend against Kentucky and went five innings for the win. Does he have it in him to go longer on Thursday?