Ole Miss baseball set to face Southern Miss in Pearl

Posted on Apr 9 2019 - 5:50am by Jake Davis

Ole Miss will face off against Southern Miss at Trustmark Park at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Pearl after sweeping a weekend series against No. 16 Florida. The Rebels have won five of their past six games, and their only loss during that stretch came as a shocking upset at the hands of North Alabama at home.

The Golden Eagles enter Tuesday’s game with a 20-9 record and currently sit at second in the Conference USA standings at 10-2. The team is also coming off of a weekend sweep of Marshall, and has won 12 of its last 15 games. The Southern Miss bats have been hot as of late, and both teams should provide plenty of offense Tuesday.

Photo by Katherine Butler.

Ole Miss shot up in the rankings after the sweep of Florida, and is now perched at No. 11 in the D1 Baseball Top 25. More importantly, the Rebels are now in a three-way tie with LSU and Arkansas for first in the SEC West, looking to take sole possession of first with an upcoming series against SEC bottom dwellers Kentucky.

The Rebels’ bats have been on fire as of late, especially in this past weekend against Florida. Six Rebels batted over .400 in the series — Chase Cockrell at .429, Cole Zabowski at .462, Grae Kessinger at .571, Thomas Dillard at .600 and Ryan Olenek and Anthony Servideo at .636. Olenek is now hitting nearly .400 on the season and boasts 11 doubles and 25 RBIs to go along with his .996 OPS.

Dillard continues to shine, batting .353 and leading the team in total bases (74), walks (33) and OPS (1.135). He is tied for the team lead in runs (38), home runs (9) and stolen bases (12). Tyler Keenan did not perform as well this weekend but did notch his ninth homer of the season on Friday, tying him with Dillard for the team lead in that category. He also knocked in four more runs over the weekend, giving him a team-high 48 RBIs on the season.

Junior catcher Cooper Johnson was also named to the Buster Posey Award Watch List. The award honors the best Division I catcher voted on by head coaches and sports information directors. The award was previously known as the Johnny Bench Award but was renamed this year to honor former Florida State catcher and current Giants superstar Buster Posey.

Posey was a standout player at Florida State and has since led an illustrious career in San Francisco, leading the Giants to three World Series championships in five years.

Photo by Katherine Butler.

Johnson joins a long list of Rebels who have been in the conversation for the award. Nick Fortes was a semifinalist last year, Henri Lartigue was a semifinalist in 2016, Will Allen was a semifinalist in 2014 and Stuart Turner won the award back in 2013.

While Johnson does not have the same offensive numbers as some of the other catchers on the list this year, he has been one of the best defensive catchers in the country this season, throwing out 10 base runners so far in 2019.