Tide Baseball Hosts Top 10 Ole Miss

Alabama has done very, very well at Sewell-Thomas Stadium this year, but the bar is raised this weekend when the Crimson Tide hosts the nation's number 9 team in a three-game Southeastern Conference series.

Alabama has won 16 games this season, and 12 of those have been in Tuscaloosa. The Tide has won all four of its weekend home series. Only a couple of those wins, though, were over tough competition, when Bama took two of three from 20th-ranked Kentucky. The Crimson Tide is 16-8 overaall and 3-3 in SEC play and ranked 30th in the nation.

This weekend Alabama hosts ninth-ranked Ole Miss (21-5 overall, 4-2 in the league). Friday's game will be at 6:35 p.m. CDT, Saturday at 6:05, and Sunday at 1:05. The Saturday game will be televised by CSS.

Alabama is ranked No. 30 by the NCBWA and is receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches poll. The Tide has won 12 of its last 15 games, including a season-long seven game winning streak during that stretch. The Tide is coming off a 10-5 win over Troy in Pensacola on Tuesday, but Bama lost two of three games at Arkansas in its last SEC test.

Alabama pitching has been outstanding this year, and the Tide will need to be at the top of its game from the mound against the hard-hitting Rebels. Bama has settled on a pitching rotation that is expected to face Mississippi this weekend.

On Friday, Bama will go with junior right-hander Spencer Turnbull, who has a 2-1 record and a phenomenal 0.28 earned run average. He'll face junior right-hander Chris Ellis, who is 4-0 with an excellent 0.67 ERA.

On Saturday, the Tide will pitch junior left-hander Justin Kamplain (2-2, 3.21) against Mississippi's Christian Trent, a sophomore right-hander who is 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA.

Sunday it will be junior left-hander Jon Keller (4-1, 1.64) for Alabama against Sam Smith, a junior right-hander who is 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA.

The Crimson Tide is hitting .273, while averaging 5.9 runs and 9.5 hits per game. When the Tide scores three or more runs in a game they are 16-0. Alabama ranks fourth in the SEC with 16 home runs. The Tide hit 26 home runs in 63 games in 2013.

The Alabama pitching staff has been outstanding this season, posting the fifth-best ERA in the SEC at 2.20. In 217 innings, Alabama has given up 62 runs (53 earned) on 145 hits with 187 strikeouts and 79 walks. Opponents are hitting .195 against the Tide, which ranks second in the SEC. Alabama is second in the country, allowing 6.0 hits per game.

Offensively, Alabama is paced by senior first baseman Austen Smith, who has team-highs with a .377 average, three home runs and 21 RBI. Georgie Salem is second on the team with a .317 average, while leading the team in hits (33) and at-bats (104). Kyle Overstreet is riding an eight-game hitting streak entering the weekend, and is now third on the team with a .300 average for the season. After a 4-for-5 night against Troy, Mikey White is fourth on the team with a .293 average, while leading the team in walks (10) and most times hit by a pitch (7).

The Rebels are ranked in all five polls, earning their highest ranking of No. 9 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Ole Miss is also ranked No. 12 by the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball, No. 13 by Baseball America and No. 16 by Perfect Game USA. Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC with a .303 batting average and 19 home runs. The Rebels are averaging 5.9 runs and 10.6 hits per game. The Rebels rank fourth in the SEC with a 2.15 ERA, while allowing 7.1 hits and 2.6 runs per game.

Austin Bousfield is the leading hitter for the Rebels with a .364 average to rank 10th in the SEC. Bousfield also has three home runs with 18 RBI. Sikes Orvis leads the team with six home runs and Will Allen leads the SEC with 33 RBI while hitting .343. Brantley Bell has a .388 average and Austin Anderson is hitting .347 with a team high 23 runs scored.

The weekend series between Alabama and Ole Miss will mark games 342-344 between the two schools. Alabama is 199-141-1 all-time versus the Rebels, but has lost four of the last five in the series. After the Rebels swept the 2013 regular season series in Oxford, Miss., the Tide defeated Ole Miss 7-5 in the SEC Tournament. When the teams last played in Tuscaloosa, the No. 17 Rebels won the series by winning games one and three. UA last won a series over Ole Miss during the 2011 season in Oxford and the Tide last won a series in Tuscaloosa during the 2010 season.

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