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Fayetteville Super Regional Preview

Ole Miss comes to town once again with a trip to Omaha on the line

Image courtesy of the University of Arkansas

Ole Miss hardly needs an introduction.

The Hogs will face the Rebels for the 6th, 7th, and possibly 8th times this year during this weekend’s Fayetteville Super Regional. The Rebels are 3-2 in the first five meetings, but these are the ones that matter.

Ole Miss Scouting Report

Strengths: Baserunning, starting pitching

Weakness: Bullpen

Fayetteville Super Regional, Offense

Stat Arkansas Ole Miss
Stat Arkansas Ole Miss
BA 0.299 0.284
OB 0.397 0.393
SLG 0.490 0.434
HR 81 68
BB% 12.7% 13.4%
K% 22.2% 18.9%

The Hogs definitely have the better offense. Ole Miss does an excellent job of drawing walks and hit really well in the Oxford Regional, pouring on the runs in a 19-4 clinching win over Jacksonville State.

Fayetteville Super Regional, Defense

Stat Arkansas Ole Miss
Stat Arkansas Ole Miss
BA 0.224 0.255
OB 0.314 0.331
SLG 0.335 0.389
HR 46 53
BB% 10.0% 8.7%
K% 25.8% 20.2%

The Rebels boast a stronger pitching staff than anyone in the Regional, although the (post-injury) TCU team we saw in the Regional is probably close. They don’t walk many batters, but they can be tagged for extra base hits.

I don’t really see anything in the numbers that definitively shows why Ole Miss has won most series against the Hogs over the last couple of years. Arkansas’ pitching rotation is heavy on right-handers, while Ole Miss’ batting order is heavy on lefties — an arrangement that conventional baseball wisdom believes benefits Ole Miss. That could have something to do with it. Or it could just be random. Ole Miss is a good team, and sometimes great teams lose to good teams. Win this series and no one will care.

Ole Miss Pitching

Will Ethridge SP R 7-6 2.91 1.15
Doug Nikhazy SP L 8-3 2.98 1.18
Gunnar Hoglund SP R 3-2 4.64 1.29
Parker Caracci CP R 3-3 4.99 1.24
Zack Phillips RP L 4-3 5.19 1.47
Austin Miller RP R 5-3 2.92 1.15
Houston Roth RP R 1-1 4.06 1.67
Tyler Myers RP R 2-0 4.50 1.25
Max Cioffi RP R 2-2 4.82 1.43
Connor Green RP R 3-2 4.81 1.58

The Rebels lack a dominant ace like Isaiah Campbell but make up for it with two high-quality starters. Will Ethridge (7-6, 2.91 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) is the likely Game 1 starter, but Doug Nikhazy (8-3, 2.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) is nearly as good. The Rebel bullpen is mostly right-handers and has been shaky at times this season.

Ole Miss Batting

Ryan Olenek CF R 0.342 0.416 0.428 0.844
Grae Kessinger SS R 0.332 0.427 0.458 0.885
Cole Zabowski 1B L 0.316 0.371 0.512 0.883
Thomas Dillard LF S 0.312 0.451 0.541 0.992
Anthony Servideo RF L 0.290 0.432 0.395 0.827
Tyler Keenan 3B L 0.279 0.421 0.492 0.913
Cooper Johnson C L 0.265 0.369 0.434 0.803
Kevin Graham DH L 0.259 0.331 0.531 0.862
Jacob Adams 2B L 0.222 0.369 0.259 0.628

Ole Miss, like Arkansas, boasts a very balanced hitting lineup that doesn’t have any dominant hitters but also has very few weak points. The bottom of the order doesn’t hit as well as the bottom of the Hogs’ order, but it makes up for this by getting on base. Four Rebels have double-digit home runs, led by Tyler Keenan with 14.

Base running is significant to Ole Miss’ offense. The Rebels are a staggering 92 of 113 when stealing bases this year. Arkansas, also an excellent base-stealing team, is 77 of 92. Base running and drawing walks allows Ole Miss to generate offense even if they aren’t hitting well. Hog pitchers will have to have good control this weekend.