Ole Miss suffered its first true series loss of the season this past weekend against a Kentucky team that has gotten off to a red-hot start to SEC play. A scuffling offense produced nine runs on Friday night to take the series opener but went cold for the remaining two games that Kentucky won.
The Rebels return home for the majority of the next two weeks as seven of their next eight games are at home, beginning with Arkansas-Little Rock on at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Greer Holston will take the ball in this midweek action. He’s 0-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 18.1 innings of work and two starts. It is Holston’s first start since tossing seven innings of shutout baseball against Furman.
Following that game, Ole Miss welcomes Mississippi State to Swayze Field for a three-game series. The Bulldogs have been decimated with injuries, especially on the mound, and could provide a golden opportunity for the Rebels to make up some early ground in the SEC West standings, as well as gain some confidence at the plate offensively.
Several MSU pitchers have had their seasons end early due to injuries but rebounded from being swept by Arkansas two weekends ago by sweeping Tennessee last weekend in Starkville.
The Rebels will then host a struggling Alabama team the next weekend with a midweek game in Pearl against Southern Miss in between. These next two SEC series in particular are vital for this young team for a variety of reasons. They will give them a chance to get a few games above .500 in the gauntlet that is the SEC while remaining at home. There really isn’t such thing as a breather in any SEC schedule, but some parts are more difficult than others. In this case for Ole Miss, these next two weekends are on the easier side of the spectrum with trips to Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Auburn still looming later in the year.
Being 3-3 in SEC play is by no means a bad start, and this team gutted out a big Sunday win against Vanderbilt two weekends ago before losing a tough road series against a scrappy Kentucky team. But with run production being a concern, as well as the uncertainty that looms on the back end of the rotation, Ole Miss needs to win these next two series (and ideally sweep one) because the schedule toward the end of the year is far less friendly.
If Ole Miss can shore up its Sunday slot in the rotation between Brady Feigl, Holston, Will Ethridge or Ryan Rolison – as well as find some consistency at the plate over the next two weeks – then it will feel a lot better heading into the back half of SEC play.
This young group is continuing to work out the kinks, and a couple of home series over the next week could serve as a launch pad before some of its toughest series arrive on the schedule.