Halfway to what remains to be seen for No. 14-ranked Ole Miss.
After a fast start, the Rebels have looked quite average of late, some preseason concerns of offensive consistency and pitching depth reappearing.
The difference-maker continues to be Saturday pitcher Aaron Barrett, the biggest reason Ole Miss is 7-5 in the SEC, tied for third in the West with Auburn.
The dominance of junior left-hander Drew Pomeranz was expected given the way he finished the 2009 season, and Pomeranz has been there every Friday night.
Barrett, though, has distanced himself from a disappointing season last year, in which he was unable to hold a spot in the weekend rotation and eventually fell off the pitching plan map.
Now Barrett is 6-1, his 1.90 ERA third in the SEC. Pomeranz is the league leader at 1.57. Consequently, Ole Miss is third in the SEC with a 3.77 staff ERA, but take Pomeranz and Barrett out of the mix, and it gets scary fast.
Given the offensive inconsistency, the Sunday struggles – Ole Miss has lost the last game in a series six straight weeks – the Rebels have to keep Pomeranz and Barrett churning along at the same rate of success to stay afloat.
Ole Miss is just 4-6 since a crushing 15-3 Saturday win against Florida on March 27, a win that secured the series against the Gators, ranked No. 2 at the time.
In those 10 games the Rebels have scored as many as seven runs just once, and that – what poor timing – was with Pomeranz pitching.
At times this season some veterans weren’t producing, but they’ve picked up the pace. Tim Ferguson’s average is down from last year’s .358, Zach Miller and Matt Smith are up.
The Rebels are missing last year’s clutch performers, where a number of experienced players were capable of the big hit. Logan Power hit only .311, not great for the college game, but was second on the team with 117 total bases and second with 58 RBIs.
Jeremy Travis was a platoon outfielder with a .279 average, but of his 34 hits, eight were doubles, and seven were home runs.
There was pop at catcher with Kyle Henson, who had extra bases on 20 of his 52 hits.
Those kind of clutch at-bats have been hard to find in the last 10 games.
Furthering complicating things offensively has been the health of first baseman Matt Snyder. He injured his shoulder at Tulane, re-injured it against Southern Miss, and hasn’t played since taking a pitch in the head against Georgia Saturday.
With four home runs in 62 at-bats, Snyder could have eight or nine home runs with as many at-bats as most regulars.
His status for the weekend is unknown, but he could be a big spark against No. 10 South Carolina.
A recent loss to Arkansas-Little Rock coupled with Tuesday’s loss at Memphis, and the Rebels’ simulated RPI, which peaked at No. 12 going into the Tennessee series, is No. 44. That’s an NCAA at-large bid danger zone. Ole Miss hasn’t failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament since 2002, the last time it also failed to make the SEC tournament.
The last 10 games include a 3-3 mark against Tennessee and Georgia, Eastern Division foes with just six SEC wins between them, tied for last with Mississippi State in the overall standings.
The meat of the schedule is here, and Ole Miss faces top 10 opponents over three of the next four weekends.
Winning during this stretch will take care of the RPI numbers.
But without some improvement in clutch at-bats – and a number of other key performance indicators – the Rebels could be headed down the wrong path.
Parrish Alford (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily about Ole Miss athletics at NEMS360.com.