Southern Scene

Ole Miss and Southern Miss enter tonight’s baseball game in Hattiesburg with identical 6-4 records. Actually USM has an unusual tie with Nicholls State in a game that was called due to rain in the seventh inning with the score 1-1.

Southern Mississippi defeated South Alabama 3-0 Tuesday night in Mobile after winning two of three games at Troy over the weekend.

The Rebels, with no Tuesday night game, are coming off a series loss at Central Florida, winning the finale 4-3 to salvage something in the “W” column from the weekend in Orlando.

The Golden Eagles have been a problem for Ole Miss in recent games. USM has won the last four games, both meetings in 2013 and both during last season’s run to the College World Series.

Here is some info on the starting pitchers who are scheduled for tonight’s 6 o’clock first pitch.

Southern Miss - Cord Cockrell, Jr., RHP, 0-0, 11.57 ERA

Ole Miss - Evan Anderson, So., LHP, 0-0, 5.40 ERA

More On Anderson

Picked up the win last Tuesday versus Arkansas State in his lone start of the season, allowing just one run on two hits over five innings of work.

Made a relief appearance in the season opener, lasting 1.1 innings and recording four strikeouts.

Started on the mound the last time Ole Miss played Southern Miss, April 30, 2014, and tossed two no-hit innings, facing six batters, striking out three and allowing only one to reach base.

Totaled 10 appearances as a freshman, starting five of them.

Posted a 2-0 record with a 2.11 ERA in 2014.

Held opponents to a .134 average as a freshman.

The Southerners

When the Golden Eagles host Ole Miss tonight, they will be returning to their home field – Pete Taylor Park - for the first time in eight games. USM started the season with a four-game homestand that included a sweep of Murray State before hitting the road.

Senior Matt Durst leads the Golden Eagles with a .375 average at the plate, while junior Tim Lynch and senior Connor Barron provide the power in the Southern Miss lineup. Lynch and Barron have three home runs apiece, and the duo makes up two-of-five Golden Eagles that are hitting over .300.

The Southern Miss pitching staff boasts a team ERA of 2.41 led by senior James McMahon with a 1.33 ERA and two complete games. Junior Cord Cockrell will get the nod on the mound to face the Rebels. Cockrell has thrown 2.1 innings in two relief appearances this season.

At The Plate

Ole Miss hasn’t been at the top of its game in the offensive department so far through ten games. There’s been a mix of veterans and newcomers, and individually some have done well.

But as a team the runs have been hard to come by in most games, at least since the opening weekend against William and Mary. Ole Miss scored 26 runs against the Tribe in those three games. In the seven games since, the Rebels have scored the same number - 26 total runs.

Only two regulars – freshman Kyle Watson at .389 and sophomore J.B. Woodman at .303 – are batting more than. 300. Only three others – sophomore Colby Bortles at .289, junior Cameron Dishon at .280 and Austin Knight at .261 – are batting over .250 through the first three weeks of the season.

As a team, the Rebels are hitting .258 on the year. Ole Miss assistant coach Mike Clement said he believes the Rebels’ hitting will continue to improve.

“We’ve had some ups and downs, but I feel like we’re getting better,” said Clement, who came to Ole Miss from Kansas State and before that was at Texas A&M. “We’ve been really tested early in the year. We’ve played some really good teams, four teams that I wouldn’t be surprised if we look up in June and they’re all in a Regional somewhere.”

But he likes the fact that he sees things improving both individually and as an offense.

“We’re pretty talented. Yes, we are young with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores in our lineup. But we’ll continue to get better,” he said. “We lost a lot of production out of our offense (from last season). We haven’t scored a bunch of runs yet, but there’s no doubt in my mind that’s coming.”

Although all three were low-scoring games, Clement liked some things he saw down in Orlando.

"They have a really good team, a veteran team,” he said of UCF. “It was a great test for us, and we were that close to sweeping them. Three one-run games against a top ten team in the country now. Our guys were disappointed we lost the series but (left with the) understanding we’ve got a chance to be pretty good. “

One of those from the central Florida area who Clement believes left the weekend series with renewed confidence is freshman Tate Blackman. A top 100 national player in last year’s recruiting class who was predicted by some in the preseason to be SEC Freshman of the Year, Blackman is batting .143 through the nine games he’s played in.

“He’s starting to swing it and show us his potential,” Clement said. “He hit a double the other way really hard to the wall in one of those games (at UCF). That’s something he hasn’t done early in the year. He hasn’t really recognized the right side of the field. We’ve worked really hard at that the last week or ten days. It was great to see him have a little bit of success this weekend, and more is coming for him for sure.”

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