PARRISH ALFORD: Dozen chances to get better still ahead

PARRISH ALFORD

PARRISH ALFORD

OXFORD

There’s no denying the significance of the one(s) that got away from Ole Miss over the weekend, but a series loss to LSU will not be the final word on whether the Rebels host an NCAA regional for the first time since 2009.

In the quest for host status winning a series against a top 15 RPI team, one who is also trying to earn a host spot, would have been a bright shining bullet point on the resume.

There are 12 SEC games remaining and plenty of time to build your case.

Like this weekend at Kentucky, which sports a No. 8 RPI in the simulated rankings found at WarrenNolan.com, and also has host aspirations.

At some point the Rebels will need to show themselves to be above some of the host competition. They’ve already lost a series to West-leading Alabama and to South Carolina, which is two games behind Florida in the East.

Florida is not on the Ole Miss schedule this season.

Odds are the conference will end up with four host sites. Five is not out of the question depending on what the fifth team looks like.

There were four SEC hosts a year ago.

Arkansas was 18-11 against the league and finished ahead of Mississippi State in the West but did not host, because it’s RPI was 30 compared to the Bulldogs’ RPI of 8. MSU was 16-14 in the SEC regular season.

South Carolina was 12-16 against the RPI top 50 last year. The Gamecocks went 17-12 in conference play and hosted a regional with an RPI of 13.

There’s also no denying the value athletics director Ross Bjork places on postseason baseball at Swayze Field. He’s made that abundantly clear.

Big finish

With 10 SEC wins in its pocket already, a 7-5 finish would make the Rebels an attractive option, even more so if they beat the right teams along the way.

That puts the Kentucky series in a different light. After Lexington, Ole Miss has Arkansas, Georgia and Texas A&M remaining. Only Georgia is currently in the RPI top 50.

There is time for Ole Miss to stake a claim to a regional host spot, but the Rebels need to differentiate themselves from the pack.

The best way to do that is to pass some people in the standings.

Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@journalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal.