Some thoughts following the Rebels' 4-0 win over Southern Mississippi ...
Add Josh Laxer's name to the Sunday starter discussion. The freshman from Madison Central, pitching minutes from his hometown, had a career night with 7 innings, four hits, a walk and five strikeouts - but most important no runs - in the Rebels 3-0 win over Southern Miss in Pearl last night.
There was quite a buzz around Laxer when he signed and when he chose not to sign with the Washington Nationals after he was selected in the 20th round last spring.
Opportunities and success have been limited this season, however.
A non-conference mid-week game - even against Southern Miss - to No. 4 LSU is a big jump, but with Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco searching to fill that Sunday role, Laxer's performance gives Bianco reason to pause and consider. Perhaps the biggest thing it did, though, is help keep other arms fresh in a busy week. The Rebels play again tonight against Murray State.
The Rebels were also strong from the bullpen last night as Bianco used two of his top weekend relievers in Aaron Greenwood and R.J. Hively. Each pitched an inning, and both retired the side in order as they combined for five strikeouts, three by Greenwood.
The Rebels had just seven hits, two by Will Allen and two by John Gatlin, who started and played the entire game at DH. Allen scored two of the three runs.
Alex Yarbrough had a basehit, so he's now hit safely in 23 of 24 games, and Matt Snyder had a double, his team-leading 16th.
Laxer had been hit pretty hard in his time before last night, having given up 21 hits in 16.1 innings going into the game. Opponents are still hitting .284 against him, not sparkling, but he lowered his ERA from the low 5s to 3.86.
Confidence is a big part of the game, and surely Laxer's got a big lift last night. If he maintains that level he'll be an important part of the picture moving forward whatever his role turns out to be.