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Rebels Take The Field To Host Arkansas State For Mid-Week Matchup

Colby Bortles steps to the plate, Photo by Steven Gagliano

After completing the sweep of #6 East Carolina over the weekend, the Rebels take the field this afternoon with a new opponent. The Rebels will play host to the Arkansas State Red Wolves as they look to remain perfect in the first week of the 2017 season. The Rebels will play just one game against the Red Wolves ahead of their upcoming three-game series with UNCW this weekend. 
In the series against ECU, the Rebels’ young talent wasted no time making an impact both at the plate and in the field. Freshman Thomas Dillard comes into today’s game batting .500 as he notched four hits in eight at-bats over the weekend, while Cole Zabowski connected on a home run and maintains a .427 average. Catcher Cooper Johnson showed the record crowds at Swayze why he was he was the #1 overall catcher in the 2017 recruiting class. Johnson used his strong arm to throw three Pirate baserunners out over the weekend. 
The freshman aided center fielder Ryan Olenek’s six-hit effort, as he provided the spark for the Rebel offense. Olenek’s performance earned him SEC Player of The Week honors. Will Golsan turned in an impressive performance at the plate as well, driving in three runs on four hits. The struggles of Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles at the plate will be a storyline to follow during this midweek matchup. A small slump to start the season is no reason to panic, but just something to keep an eye on as the season gets underway. 
Freshman Will Ethridge will make his first career start for the Rebels. The 6’4 RHP from Parkview High School in Georgia posted a 1.65 ERA throughout his high school career. Etheridge elected to attend Ole Miss despite being selected in the 2016 MLB draft by the Seattle Mariners. Ethridge came to Oxford as the #49 prospect in the nation according to Perfect Game. A mid-week start is the perfect opportunity to allow Ethridge to get his feet wet; and if things don’t go well early, he has an excellent bullpen to back him up. 
The Rebel bullpen was on full display this past weekend, as six different relievers took the mound. Closer Will Stokes picked up two saves in as many attempts. Dallas Woolfolk turned in perhaps the best performance by a Rebel pitcher, as he entered the game with no outs and the bases loaded with the Rebels clinging to a 2-run lead in the 8th inning. Woolfolk struck out the side and returned in the 9th to pick up the save. 
The Red Wolves come to Swayze with a 4-0 record after sweeping NYIT. Arkansas State wasn’t short on offense this past weekend outscoring NYIT 35-12. Catcher
Justin Felix is the big bat in the Red Wolves lineup, piling up 9 RBI in just four games. Speed is something you can’t coach, but Arkansas State’s Grant Hawkins has it. Hawkins stole five bases and scored seven runs in the team’s first series. The Red Wolves will start RHP Bo Ritter, who made two appearances over the weekend totaling 1.1 IP. Ritter retired all four batters by way of the strikeout. Ritter did surrender four hits. 
First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Swayze Field, but there is rain in the forecast. With the ever-changing Mississippi weather, that may change throughout the day. The game will be televised on the SEC Network+ (App), and broadcasted on the Ole Miss Radio Network. 
Current forecast

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com 
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