Ole Miss looks at UAB as solid tune-up before SEC opener against the Vols
Ole Miss is feeling confident and looking forward to the beginning of Southeastern Conference play this weekend at Tennessee, but the Rebels will first use their two mid-week games against UAB (6-9) as a tune-up for the Vols.
The ninth-ranked Rebels (15-1) have been scorching hot in the past two weeks, winning 10 in a row – sweeping Southeast Missouri and Grambling State in the process. But head coach Mike Bianco feels his team still has a way to go despite only having one loss (a 4-0 defeat to No. 2 Louisville on Feb. 27) in the 2016 season.
“The good news is we have played good,” said Bianco, who picked up his 600th win as Ole Miss head coach in Friday’s 15-2 rout of the Tigers. “We have played good, consistent, solid baseball. I don’t think we have played our best yet. We do enough to win and sometimes win convincingly.
“So the good news for us is there’s room for growth and room to get better.”
Rebels performing at the plate
There might be room for a little improvement in some areas, but Bianco has to be pleased with the way Ole Miss has performed offensively. For the season, the Rebels have outscored their opponents 121-50. The first inning has been the most impressive for Bianco’s team, as they have amassed a 26-6 advantage.
The strong hitting from the Rebels’ starters has helped propel the program this season. Thus far the Rebels have six players with double-digit hits: J.B. Woodman (19), Colby Bortles (18), Tate Blackman (18), Will Golsan (17), Errol Robinson (15), and Henri Lartigue (12).
The batting averages to date reflect this success, as Ole Miss currently has six players hitting at a clip over .300: Ryan Olenek (.381), J.B. Woodman (.358), Colby Bortles (.346), Holt Perdzock (.346), Tate Blackman (.333), and Will Golsan (.304) are all above .300.
“I like the offense; I like how we get off to good starts,” Bianco said. “Then, we were cold there for like a week or so. But they have been able to bounce back.”
New pitchers ‘have pitched really well’
While the offense has looked superb, pitching has been a bit sporadic at times; however, the Rebels have come through on the mound when they needed to.
Having a bullpen full of healthy and hungry pitchers certainly makes Bianco’s decisions to pull certain pitchers less stressful and more comfortable:
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
Johnson agreed with Bianco about the depth of pitching heading into SEC play and doesn’t mind coming off the mound if it opens up opportunities for other pitchers:
RHP Sean Johnson
Probable starters vs. UAB
Bianco announced after Sunday’s slate of victories that freshman RHP James McArthur will start the first game against the Blazers on Tuesday (6:30 p.m. CST) and freshman RHP Andy Pagnozzi will get the starting nod on Wednesday (11:30 a.m. CST).
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)