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Rebels Begin Road Trip With Trip To Hattiesburg For Southern Miss Matchup

Photo by Paul Keelaghan

The Rebels managed to take care of the Crimson Tide this past weekend, and face a familiar foe tonight. For the second time in as many weeks, Ole Miss will take on Southern Miss. The Rebels will hope for a similar outcome as they were able to come out on top by a 6-5 final in 12 innings back on April 4th. Maybe the Rebels won’t have to rely on a relief pitcher to score the winning run on this trip to Hattiesburg with their newfound offensive success from the weekend. 
Last time out against the Golden Eagles, the Rebels picked up 11 hits from 9 different players, with CF Ryan Olenek turning in a 3-hit performance. Olenek can once again be a factor for Ole Miss if he continues to have a hot hand at the plate. The sophomore has totaled ten hits in his last three games. The weekend saw a number of surprise contributions including six hits from the mustache-less DH Tim Rowe. 2B Tate Blackman is returning to form with his walk-off home run followed up by a 3-4 outing on Sunday. 
After Cooper Johnson’s electric start to the season, his inability to hit and a dip in his defensive play led to the insertion of Nick Fortes into the starting lineup at catcher. Fortes has taken advantage of the opportunity and is hitting a team-high .319, albeit in a limited number of at-bats. The change does show Mike Bianco’s willingness to shake things up in the interest of winning. Grae Kessinger’s team-leading five errors and .159 batting average need to improve, or the Rebels may need to start looking for help at the SS position. 
During the final game of the Alabama series Ole Miss gave up four runs, but only two were earned. The Rebel defense committed four costly errors, a stat that can’t be replicated moving forward. The Golden Eagles don’t need any help scoring runs since they were able to score 30 runs over the weekend in their series against FIU.
The Golden Eagles aren’t short on offense talent; the team averages 10.9 hits per game and eight runs per game. It’s no accident that Southern Miss has won 17 of their last 20, and the Rebels have a chance to get the best of them once again the in-state matchup. 
Greer Holston (0-2, 3.18 ERA) gets the start for Ole Miss just as he did in the last matchup with Southern Miss. Holston will be looking for a better outing this time around after allowing four runs in 4.2 innings. The freshman was bailed out by five members of the bullpen who didn’t allow an earned run for the remainder of the game. 
Taylor Braley (3-0, 4.26 ERA) gave up three runs to Ole Miss last time round and will once again get the start for Southern Miss. It will be interesting to see how both pitchers adjust to the familiarity with the opposing lineup. 
This game begins a week long road trip for Ole Miss with a daunting matchup with LSU in Baton Rouge awaiting them this weekend.
First pitch from Hattiesburg is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will not be televised but is available on the Ole Miss Radio Network and OleMissSports.com
No rain in the forecast, so the game should go on without any interruptions from mother nature. 

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