By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
Freshman right-hander Jacob Waguespack will replace Josh Laxer as the regular mid-week starter tonight when No. 23 Ole Miss visits Southern Miss in the Rebels’ final non-conference game.
It’s not a demotion for Laxer, just a chance for Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco to get a look at a young pitcher who would have pitched more this season if not for injury.
An all-state selection at Dutchtown High School in Prairieville, La., near Baton Rouge, Waguespack has a 1.42 earned run average but has pitched only 61⁄3 innings over four appearances. Working his way back from tendinitis, he didn’t make his college debut until the Governor’s Cup game against Mississippi State on April 9.
Tonight will be his first start.
“I will be super-excited,” Waguespack said. “It was frustrating at first. You never want to get hurt, but it’s part of the game, part of the process. You have to battle through it and stick with the support from your teammates.”
The Golden Eagles defeated Ole Miss 2-1 in Pearl on April 16.
They begin the week 26-23 overall after losing twice in a non-Conference USA series against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville over the weekend.
Southern Miss is 14-7 in C-USA play with a 11⁄2-game lead over second-place Memphis and can clinch the regular season title, it’s third, with two wins at Houston this weekend.
The Golden Eagles have recorded 10 or more hits in six of their last nine games.
The Rebels’ last visit to Pete Taylor Park drew a school-record 5,689 fans.
‘he deserves it’
Bianco is eager to see what Waguespack can do tonight and if he might find another arm – a fresher arm – to turn to in the postseason.
Bianco expects Waguespack to throw about 75 pitches.
“Without the injury this would have happened by now. He’s pitched well, he deserves it,” Bianco said. “Sometimes when you’re in the pen and in relief, the best intentions don’t happen. You write down this is what I want to do, but you’re there to win the game, and sometimes you don’t pitch him as much as you want or in the right situation.”