It's time for the first SEC home series of the year, and of course it's against Ole Miss because nothing gets a season revved up faster than a division rival coming to town. While the animosity isn't there for Ole Miss like it is for football, there is still a lot of good competitive fire that makes this series fun. The Rebels come to town with a 9-7 record, just having split a two game series with the #17 ranked Louisville Cardinals.
Kyle Watson - 350/509/500
JB Woodman - 309/429/509
Cameron Dishon - 279/367/372
Ole Miss isn't having the greatest start to the season at the plate. They rank second to last in the SEC with a team batting average of 0.255, just edging out Missouri. They are a free swinging bunch with 111 strikeouts on the season, good for the third most in the SEC. Part of this is the competition they've faced. The Rebs already have faced strong out of conference teams like Louisville and a four game away trip to #9 UCF.
The best hitter for the Rebels at the moment is freshman Kyle Watson. He is tied for the team lead in doubles with six and is 7-8 on stole bases this season. He also leads the Rebels in runs scored with 13.
The big power in this lineup is senior Sikes Orvis. This guy has been around for what feels like a decade. His average is pretty abysmal at 0.208, but he leads the Rebs with 3 HRs and 11 RBI on the season. Alex Box has been pretty good about giving up the long balls this season, so don't be surprised if he blasts a one over the fence.
Friday - LHP Christian Trent, 3-0, 2.96 ERA, 24.1 IP, 0.261 OBA, 23/7 K/BB
Saturday - RHP Brady Bramlett, 2-1, 2.05 ERA, 22.0 IP, 0.173 OBA, 34/3 K/BB
Sunday - ????
RHP Jacob Waguespack - 0.64 ERA, 14.0 IP, 0.174 OBA, 9/4 K/BB
LHP Wyatt Short - 0.90 ERA, 10.0 IP, 0.206 OBA, 14/3 K/BB
RHP Scott Weathersby - 3.48 ERA, 10.1 IP, 0.118 OBA, 16/3 K/BB
Trent and Bramlett are both legit SEC starters. Trent doesn't have blow you away type stuff at the plate, but he does throw plenty of strikes and will sit in the low 90s with his fastball. Trent also has a good curveball and changeup to mess with the hitters. Bramlett also has a low 90s fastball and a good curveball. Bramlett gets his fair share of strikeouts, so Saturday looks to be a good challenge for the Tiger bats. The Sunday spot is in limbo for the Rebels as they have not announced a starter yet.
Waguespack, Short, and Weathersby give the Rebels a solid trio for their bullpen. Weathersby has lots of experience and has given the Tigers fits in the past. His highish ERA is an aberration.
Keys to the Weekend
Throw Strikes: I want to see the starters go after the Ole Miss bats. The Rebs are free swinging at the plate, and the Tiger starting pitching needs to take advantage of that. Mixing up the off speed pitches and changing pace on the fastball could lead to plenty of strikeouts for the impatient Rebels.
Bats on Fire: The Tigers are swinging the bats really well right now. They lead the SEC with a 0.322 average and are in the top half of the conference in every other major stat category. The Ole Miss starters will be tough, so LSU needs to stay patient at the plate and take what the Rebels give them.
Crowd Support: Nothing fires a team up like a packed house, so hopefully Alex Box shows up and gives the guys a great home field advantage for the first SEC series. We've got the number 3 team in the nation facing a loathed rival to start the season. If that can't entice you into the park, then I don't know what can.
With the Rebels rotation not being fully set, I say the Tigers take 2-3 from the Rebels.