Midweek Tests

Matt Tracy gets the baseball today for the Rebels as midweek non-conference games begin. An improved Memphis Tigers team is in town.

Memphis opened play over the weekend with a sweep of the Evansville Purple Aces in impressive fashion – scores of 13-9, 8-4, and 17-6.

These early season non-conference games are the ones when coaches continue to evaluate and find the players that suit the lineup. And they also give players a chance who aren't weekend performers an opportunity to prove they can be.

The versatile Tracy, a left-hander, was in the outfield over the weekend. He's got the range to play the outfield and the power to be one of the Rebels' home run hitters. Today, however, he will try to hold the Tigers' bats at bay and their runs to a minimum.

Last season Tracy pitched in 24 games with just four starts. His ERA was 5.85 and he had a 4-3 record. This season, even with a deeper pitching staff, the fourth-year senior is set to solidify his spot in the Rebel's weekly starting rotation.

Wednesday's starter against Arkansas State is scheduled to be R.J. Hively, a junior transfer who saw his first action as a Rebel on Sunday against Wright State. He got a little roughed up in the eighth inning with the Rebels leading 6-2. Brett Huber came in after Hively had allowed three runs on four hits and the Raiders to get back in it.

Also expected to see mound time these next two games are freshmen Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers.

Matt Smith
Bruce Newman
Memphis will be another significant test for the Rebels, as Wright State was. The last time the Rebels and Tigers played was at Autozone Park last spring, and Memphis won 6-5. That contest snapped a 13-game win streak for Ole Miss in the series.

"Always a challenge, a top 20 program year in and year out," said Memphis head coach Daren Schoenrock of his team's trip to Oxford today. "Coach (Mike) Bianco's done a great job. They'll be ready for us. It's early in the season. Our guys will be excited to play, and their guys will be excited to play."

Schoenrock said his team played well this past weekend to start the season.

"We have a veteran team, and I expected us to play offense like that. You never know how many hits you'll get, but we had good at-bats all weekend," he said. "If you do that over a period of time, you'll score runs. We had some defensive lapses, but we got a lot of guys in games. That's what you take away from (the weekend)."

Bianco will continue to insert a number of different players into his lineup. He said Sunday following the sweep of Wright State that he'd play freshman Austin Anderson at shortstop. There should be other new faces on the field these next two contests.

"It's a tough place to play, but you take it one game at a time," said Tiger junior first baseman T.J. Rich of heading to Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. "Now we can just focus on Ole Miss."

The Rebels enter the midweek with some confidence after the sweep of the Raiders.

"We won in different ways, which is good for us right now," said fifth-year senior Matt Smith, who played first base and right field during the series. "These games are good tests for us. It's good to be in these situations and great to see us fight and keep our focus and pull it out at the end."

Both games this midweek begin at 3 p.m.

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