By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD –Trying to rise above a three-team pack at the back end of the SEC’s Western Division, Ole Miss is hoping for continued improvement on offense against Kentucky this weekend.
Ole Miss (20-14, 5-7 SEC) is tied with Auburn and Mississippi State for third place in the West, two games ahead of LSU. The Rebels are at Auburn next weekend.
First pitch at Swayze Field is tonight at 6:30 with remaining game times at 4 p.m., Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kentucky arrives at 17-17 overall, 2-10 and tied for last place in the East with Tennessee.
At various times this season, Ole Miss has had trouble in different phases of play, but the offense seems to be on an uptick recently.
“We still need more production out of the middle of our lineup, but we’re not wasting as many outs,” hitting coach Matt Mossberg said. “That’s a big part of the reason we’ve been able to score more runs and put innings together of late.”
The Rebels were held by Alabama to five runs or fewer each game, scoring 13 for the weekend.
Since that opening series they’ve scored 18 against Tennessee, 24 against LSU and 23 against Georgia.
Even in those high-scoring series the last two weekends, there have been lulls.
Ole Miss could have won the LSU series on Sunday but lost 8-2. Georgia clinched the series at Oxford by holding the Rebels to three runs on Saturday in an 8-3 defeat.
Needing a big hit
The staff is hoping for greater production from junior designated hitter Matt Snyder. They say his lack of production is not related to his shoulder woes.
Snyder separated the shoulder early last season but went on to hit .347 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs in 42 games. He had surgery in the off-season and re-injured the shoulder early in January practice.
“Certainly, a lot has been said about his injury, not having live at-bats, but we’re past that, and we’re to the point that he knows that. He’s ready, he can do it, he just has to be able to trust himself mentally and err to the side of aggressive and not tentative,” Mossberg said.
Snyder, a junior from Centreville, Va., started this season well above .300 but is currently hitting .248, his 17 RBIs ranking sixth on the team.
“It’s hard to imagine we’re going to have great success without him getting back on track,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
The Rebels are tied for 10th in the SEC in runs scored in overall games, but in SEC only competition, the Rebels are third in runs scored with 78.
Snyder did not start Tuesday’s 8-6, 12-inning loss to Southern Miss in Pearl. He was used as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run at second base.
On one swing he narrowly missed a game-winning hit when his ball was foul down the left field line. Two pitches later he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Bianco is confident that Snyder will come around.
“It will happen. He’s too good offensively. It will start to click.”
Contact Parrish Alford at 678-1600