Ole Miss defeated Arkansas State 11-1 in non-conference action last week reversing, at least for a game, a trend of recent struggle outside the SEC.
The Rebels take on St. Louis tonight in the final non-conference home game. St. Louis comes in 30-13 overall and leads the Atlantic 10 Conference with a 12-3 mark. Rhode Island, swept at Swayze by Ole Miss much earlier this season, is tied for third in the league at 10-5, 25-20 overall.
St. Louis is hitting .292 with 27 home runs and will start right-hander Joe Powell, who is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA. Teams are hitting .317 against him, and he’s struck out 19 with 15 walks over 14 outings.
Ole Miss has gotten some good work from sophomore right-hander Josh Laxer as its primary non-conference starter. That will be especially important if the Rebels find themselves in a single-elimination SEC tournament play-in game which will most likely be the case. The teams that survive those games to reach the old double-elimination format will likely be those with the strongest non-conference pitching. Those are the guys who will start those games.
Laxer is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 39 innings. He hasn’t figured into the decision in his last four starts, and Ole Miss is 2-2 in those games.