Ole Miss third baseman Colby Bortles (Photo credit: Ole Miss athletics)

Ole Miss Continues Rugged Last Month of Season

Ole Miss scored a monstrous road series win at Arkansas last weekend that bolstered its case for a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Another one like it this weekend at Florida would make its postseason resumé glean even brighter, and further strength its position inside the field of 64. The Rebels' RPI currently sits at 35. It snuck back under 40 after taking two of three last weekend from a very good Razorback team. Ole Miss is currently over .500 in the SEC (11-10) for the first time since late March. It appears, at least on the surface, that this team is beginning to swing the bat better to compliment the consistent pitching it has gotten all year. 

The biggest thing working against the Rebels down the stretch is the difficulty of the remaining schedule. After this weekend's trip to Florida,  Ole Miss hosts Texas A&M before ending the regular season with a weekend trip to Auburn. All three teams are ranked and have a combined 40-23 record in the SEC. It'll face three of the best Friday night arms in the conference in Alex Faedo, Keegan Thompson and Brigham Hill. Ole Miss is 14-10 against ranked opponents this season, and one positive note to this the difficult closing stretch is that the opportunities to prove it deserves a spot in the NCAA Tournament are plentiful. The downside is that this team will likely need 15 SEC wins to feel good about its chances to get in, without having work left to do in Hoover. The most conventional path to those four wins would be to take a game in its remaining two road series in Gainesville and Auburn, and find a way to win two of three at home against the Aggies, who have not lost a weekend series since March. 

"We're looking forward to the challenge down in Gainesville. They're a good team, and always have good arms," Colby Bortles said. "From a hitter's standpoint, looking forward to seeing how good their arms are and we are going to be ready to get the series down there."

This team won its first road series of the season last weekend, which boosted its confidence. Ole Miss has hit 11 home runs in its last five games, another sign of the strides that have been made at the plate. 

"I think we have all the confidence in the world in our team and the success that we are having," Bortles said. "We are looking forward to going down to Gainesville and winning."

One thing the Rebels can ill-afford to do is get swept in any of its remaining series. Playing on the road in this league is tough, and losing all three in a weekend would require a total of four wins to come out of the latter two series. Sure, it is not impossible, but would make the Rebels' road to the NCAA Tournament immensely more difficult.

D1Baseball has Ole Miss as a three seed in the Hattiesburg regional hosted by Southern Miss in its latest projections. Baseball America has the Rebels as a three seed in the Clemson, SC regional. Both sites had the Rebels firmly in the field,  at least more so than their projections before the Arkansas series.

Ole Miss will have another resumé building chance in Gainesville this weekend against a Gators team that has won 12 of their last 14 games. Its a match up of two teams playing better baseball after both got off to sluggish starts to begin SEC play, and its an important three game slate for both teams as they roll towards the end of the regular season.

First pitch on Friday is set for 5:30 p.m.

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