By Adam Brown
Ole Miss begins their Road to Omaha against Southeast Missouri State on Friday night in the Oxford Regional. The first pitch of the game is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN3.
Ole Miss (41-19) comes into the NCAA Tournament following a run to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament last weekend.
Coach Mike Bianco and his staff made the decision earlier in the week to go with Derek Diamond against Southeast Missouri State and hold the southpaw Doug Nikhazy to Saturday.
“We want to win game one,” Bianco said. “The goal is to win the regional and move on. We thought with the matchups of all three teams this gives us the best opportunity to get through the first two games.”
Diamond got the call as the starter for the opening game of the regional against SEMO. Diamond is coming off of a start against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the SEC Tournament on Wednesday night in which he was masterful on the mound in 5.1 innings of work and surrendered two runs on four hits with eight strikeouts.
“Just going to let it carry over,” Diamond said. “Hasn’t been too much I’ve been working on physically. It’s just having the mindset of going out there and knowing that you’re going to win. I think that is all it is, it doesn’t matter who we are playing, I am just going to go out and do what I do.”
For Diamond, getting the nod to take the ball in the regional and in front of the crowd at Swayze enhanced his energy.
“I am fired up, ready to go,” Diamond said. “It is a great opportunity, and I can’t wait. I get to open it up and play some playoff ball at Swayze. It is going to be awesome.”
Southeast Missouri is coming into town after winning their Ohio Valley Conference Tournament with ace Dylan Dodd. Dodd on the mound this season has a 2.78 ERA and a 9-1 record in 90.2 innings of work.
“(Dodd) would be an ace on any staff and present a lot of problems to anyone,” Bianco said. “Terrific left-handed guy with a dominant fastball. (He throws) in the 90s with a couple of different breaking balls. He has had success all season.”
For live in-game updates throughout the game follow @HottyToddySprts on Twitter.