A dominant performance in the Oxford Regional last weekend gives Ole Miss an opportunity to return to Omaha for the first time since 2014. The only thing standing between the Rebels and the College World Series is the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Despite their No. 5 ranking and home field advantage, the Super Regional this weekend will be a comfortable place for Ole Miss. The 40-25 Rebels won two of three in Baum Stadium earlier in the season before splitting their two games in the SEC Tournament.
Both teams will head into the best-of-three series with a head of steam. The Rebels and the Razorbacks swept the competition at their respective Regionals. They outscored their opponents 41-7 over the weekend to cruise to three wins, leading the nation in batting average, runs per game and plenty of other offensive stats.
Arkansas had a slightly tougher road to the Super Regional. The Razorbacks handled Central Connecticut State 11-5 on Friday and held off TCU on Saturday and Sunday by the scores of 3-1 and 6-0.
While the two teams have had different paths, they are similar in many ways. Ole Miss new-found gusto at the plate and on the mound has them catching fire at the right time while Arakansas’s performance has been steady all year. Both teams are winning games with pitch execution and discipline at the plate.
Arkansas has five players batting over .300 compared to Ole Miss’s four. Lead by Matt Goodheart, Trevor Ezell and Jack Kenley, The Razorbacks have swung their way to a 44-17 record. Kenley is epecially swinging a hot bat, going .600 in the Fayetteville Regional.
The Razorbacks have also leaned on a junior ace and two freshman for the bulk of their starting innings over the season. Isaiah Campbell will take the mound for the Razorbacks on Saturday. His 11-1 record, 2.27 ERA and 108 strikeouts got him drafted No. 76 overall to the Seattle Mariners in the first day of the MLB Draft. The last time he saw the Ole Miss lineup was in late march, when he went 7.0 innings with five strikeouts on the way to a 5-3 victory.
The Arkansas pitchers for Sunday and possibly Monday have yet to be announced by Dave Van Horn, but it could like be freshmen, Connor Noland and Patrick Wicklander. The Razorbacks’ closer, Matt Cronin is also a player to watch this weekend. He leads the nation in saves with 12 this season and his fastball gave the Rebels all they could handle in Hoover.
They’ll matchup with Will Ethridge, Doug Nikhazy and Gunnar Hogland, who have all seemed to hit their stride in the last few weeks along with the Rebel bats.
The opener is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN. First pitch for Game 2 on Sunday will be a 2 p.m. and Game 3, if necessary, is at 3 p.m. on Monday.