Back In Action

Ole Miss and Southern Miss get together in Oxford tonight at 6:30 for the second time this baseball season. The Rebels try to even things up as the Golden Eagles won the first meeting 5-3 in Pearl in March.

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USM is 26-19 and is coming off a series loss to No. 11 Rice in Hattiesburg this past weekend. The Golden Eagles hit .243 as a team currently with 20 home runs and 191 RBI through 45 games played.

Third baseman Tim Lynch leads the offense with a .294 average and a .409 on base percentage this season. Designated hitter Matt Durst, whose grand slam lifed Southern Miss to an 8-6 win over Rice Sunday, leads the run production with five home runs and 32 RBI to pace all USM hitters.

As a pitching staff, Southern Miss has a 3.60 ERA with 367 strikeouts and 153 walks in 402.1 innings.

Senior right-hander Cameron Giannini, who is the scheduled starter for USM tonight, is 3-2 record with a 4.13 ERA. He has 21 walks with 39 strikeouts this year.

Recognizing Boz

Auston Bousfield picked up some national and Southeastern Conference honors this week. The junior center fielder had a weekend of major proportions at Kentucky as the Rebels swept the Wildcats.

Bousfield was named National Offensive Player of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America and also SEC Player of the Week.

"It's definitely nice to be recognized nationally. It's not something you think about whenever you decide to play here, but it's definitely cool," the Oakland. Fla., and West Orange High School product said.

Bousfield said he couldn't recall a stretch of games in his baseball career that he'd been so productive.

"Not off the top of my head I can think of. It was a pretty good weekend for me," he said.

That's an understatement. Bousfield batted .714 at UK with a team-leading eight runs scored with seven RBI. He went 10-for-14 with four doubles and a home run.

The performance extended his SEC-leading hit total to 72 for the season and improved his season batting average nearly 30 points to .371, which is second in the conference. Ironically Kentucky Friday night starting pitcher and offensive superstar A.J. Reed is the league leader, batting .374 currently.

Bousfield went 5-for-6 in game two of the series with a career-high six RBI. He scored three runs in the Sunday game as Ole Miss won the finale 9-6 to complete the sweep.

"I just think I got some good pitches to hit, put some good swings on them, found the barrel and found the hole," he said. "I could easily have hit a couple of those balls ten feet to the left or to the right. It was just one of those weekends where things happened to work out for me, so that was nice."

Bousfield said the Rebels, now 33-12 overall and 13-8 in SEC play with a NCAA RPI of No. 4 in the nation at this point behind Virginia, Indiana, and Florida, look forward to the USM game tonight and the weekend at home against Arkansas.

"It's a confidence boost," he said of the weekend at UK. "Our goals include hosting a Regional and a Super Regional. With our RPI where it is now, it puts us in position. We've just got to finish the rest of the season and win series."

While also remembering the importance of tonight's game.

Auston Bousfield
Bruce Newman

"Southern Miss is a good team and it's a big game for us. We've got to be ready to play," Bousfield said. "We know they will come out ready to play."

Watching Errol

Errol Robinson, the freshman shortstop for the Rebels, was named this week to the 2014 Brooks Wallace Award watch list honoring the nation's top shortstop.

"It's exciting and really flattering," said Robinson, from Boyds, Md., and St. John's College High School. "It's not something I really think about. I just want to go out and help the team, finish on a good note, and achieve our goals. I'm just focused on the team."

Robinson said his first season of college baseball actually began last fall when he was learning about the game at this level during fall ball.

"Those intrasquads helped me get used to it," he said. "The speed of the game was getting to me a little bit. But the fall really helped me. Then the first weekend (of the season) at Stetson, the team was on fire. That kind of jump started me as well. It's been a fun ride so far."

Robinson said he's learned to put mistakes behind him as quickly as possible and move on.

"After that LSU Thursday game, I came out here with the attitude that Friday is another game," he said of the 13-inning loss for Ole Miss and the late-game error he made. "I'm just focused on my job and my love for the game and playing well. That's pretty much what I've been doing."

Starting Evan Anderson

Freshman left-handed pitcher Evan Anderson gets the ball tonight to start the game for Ole Miss. It's his fourth start and he's pitched 15.1 innings.

The Dale, Okla., native is 1-0 with eight overall appearances this season and an ERA of 2.35.

"I'm really excited about coming out and trying to get a win for us," Anderson said. "It's a big game for us."

Anderson admits the season hasn't gone as well for him as he'd have liked.

"It definitely has not been easy. I had some arm soreness. Been battling that, but it's better," he said. "I feel healthy and back to where I should be."

But he said he continues to grow as a pitcher at the college level while trying to help his team win games.

"I'm just working to be competitive on the mound," said Anderson, with 11 strikeouts and eight walks on his stat line this season. "And also trying to be consistent, throwing a lot of strikes and not going out there and being a different guy every time."

Like most pitchers who get to this level, he was used to being a starter. This season as a freshman in college, he's been both a starter and a reliever. There are differences.

"It's just a mental thing," Anderson said. "I've always been a starter. Warming up and coming out of the pen, you've got less time. I'll get to the point where I can (relieve) better. It's just a mental thing for me right now."

Tonight, however, that won't be a problem. He will throw the first pitch of the evening for Ole Miss against Southern Miss.

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