Ole Miss lost for the first time in over a year, but it’s going to be okay.
The Rebels dropped the series against the University of Central Florida (UCF) this past weekend, falling to 5-2 on the season. Coming into this series, the UCF Knights weren’t ranked, but they probably should have been. The Knights finished the series 15-3 and returned 20 of their players. UCF has an incredible team that came onto Swayze Field and beat the No. 1 team in the country. I’ll give them credit where credit is due, but I can’t wait until Ole Miss beats them again.
“I think we faced a great team in UCF,” junior pitcher Gunnar Hoglund said after the UCF series. “They just outplayed us today and the whole weekend. I think the offense will respond and get that figured out.”
Before the loss, the Rebels sat at No. 1 in almost every ranking. Ole Miss players and fans were living off of the high that it brought, but it only lasted a week. On Monday, the Rebels dropped either three or four spots, depending on the poll. The undefeated University of Arkansas took the top spot with Mississippi State and Vanderbilt in the second and third spots.
Ole Miss baseball now ranks at No. 4 in D1 Baseball Rankings, No. 5 in Baseball America rankings and No. 5 in the USA Today Baseball Top 25 Coaches Poll. Don’t let that fool you.
Offensively, Ole Miss baseball performed in a fantastic fashion throughout the start of the season. In the program’s first four games, the Rebels combined for 32 runs and 34 hits. The bats started to hit a rough patch with only 10 runs in three games against UCF. The Rebels seemed to pick back up with 16 runs against Memphis.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco reflected on the series loss.
“We have to play better. They beat us — just straight up beat us,” Bianco said in the press conference. “They were so committed offensively, especially in Game No. 3. Even with pitches (from Ole Miss) that were good pitches, (UCF) did a really good job. They just played better than we did.”
Ole Miss definitely got outplayed, but, it really isn’t a cause for concern. The Rebels were without sophomore Peyton Chatangier in a big matchup, faced trouble hitting and UCF had powerful bats. It seems easy to get distracted in the rankings when you sit at the top.
This loss against UCF happened to be a reset and time for reflection for the Rebels. They aren’t going to play perfectly, and they’re not going to win every single game this season.
Still, it’s not time to panic quite yet. The only thing that truly matters is who sits at No. 1 at the end of the season.