By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Ole Miss and Mississippi State, both top 10 programs just days ago, meet tonight in a game that doesn’t count in the SEC standings but counts in other important ways – emotions and RPI.
First pitch for the Governor’s Cup at Trustmark Park in Pearl is 6:30 p.m. There is no TV coverage.
“That’s a fun atmosphere out there. We always want to beat Ole Miss,” MSU shortstop Adam Frazier said.
Ole Miss will start right-hander Josh Laxer (2-0, 2.45). MSU will counter with right-hander Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 4.15).
It is the only non-conference competition for both teams this week. Ole Miss is at home against Alabama this weekend, while MSU visits Texas A&M.
The Bulldogs (26-9, 5-7 SEC) righted themselves a bit this weekend with two wins against Florida, passing Ole Miss (23-9, 4-8) in the SEC standings on the way up.
The Rebels were swept at home for the first time since 2010, falling three times to No. 2-ranked Vanderbilt. Ole Miss had scored just two runs in a four-game span before scoring six in a 7-6 11-inning loss on Sunday.
While tonight’s game won’t have a bearing on the SEC race, it will on the RPI.
Ratings Percentage Index is a formula combining wins, losses, strength of schedule and other factors and is a key component used by the NCAA selection committee in determined at-large tournament bids.
MSU has an RPI ranking of 14th, while Ole Miss is 16 th.
Ole Miss has lost its last five games, all to SEC teams.
Facing Vandy’s pitching staff was not a recipe for success for a team that has been struggling to score. The Rebels took some positives from Sunday’s loss.
“I believe we got back to playing the way Ole Miss plays even though we loss. They’re the No. 2 team in the nation, and we took them to extra innings,” catcher Stuart Turner said. “We feel like we played very well today.”