Rebels having unforeseen season

ATHENS, Ga. - Who would have thought going into the last two weekends of the regular season, the Ole Miss Rebels would have only three series wins in Southeastern Conference play? But that's the unfortunate, perhaps even hard to believe, case for this year's team.

A season that early had Ole Miss ranked No. 2 nationally in several polls has turned into a fight just to get to Hoover.

Not that it isn't that way most every year in some way, shape or form. Normally it's a fight to the finish for whatever it is you're fighting for. And there isn't much comfort zone or room for error. The league's too tough.

Maybe Matt Smith's throwing injury in game one of the season was an omen, when he collapsed on the mound with a torn UCL. Sure, he came back and played like an All-American right after that. But the arm still bothers him from time to time.

Evan Button batted cleanup on opening day. I'm not sure I even remember what Button looks like it's been so long since he played.

Cody Overbeck's shins continue to be a problem for him. Michael Guerrero batted fifth on the first day of the season. We haven't seen him in like three weeks because of feet problems. He may be back for Auburn. Kyle Henson was going to be counted on at catcher. Then came the unfortunate situation with the NCAA ruling followed by an arm injury.

The coaches and players won't use any of the above as excuses or reasons. As a matter of fact, they won't even hear of it.

Teams have injuries that affect them. This one has had more than its share. All the coaches and players say is basically, "We have to win no matter what," and that's that.

This edition of the Diamond Rebs, now 31-19 overall and 12-12 in SEC play, has so far been only good enough to win one game per SEC road trip. Except for the first conference weekend at the SEC's worst team, Mississippi State, when they got two.

Now they come home to face an Auburn team that doesn't have quite the record the Rebs do but is in the same situation – searching for a spot in the SEC Tournament.

It's a critical series for both.

What's happened to this Ole Miss team wasn't predictable for anybody through the fall or even three months ago. That goes for their injuries. That goes for their defensive execution. That goes for their offensive output. That goes for basically everything about them.

But they've got two weekends left to get it right. So there's still time.

But not much. And they know it.

"It's huge," captain Fuller Smith said of the upcoming three games with Auburn.

And he added one other thing.

"We'll be back home playing before our great fans," he said. "We know they'll get behind us this weekend. We've got to come out with some wins."

Logan Power, the fourth-year junior, agrees.

"We've got six games left (in the regular season)," he said. "We want to play our best baseball from here on out. It's been an up and down season. It's been a really weird year for us."

That it has, and nobody saw it coming.

Right now the Rebels would be the No. 7 seed in the eight-team SEC tourney. But they won't get there if they don't win more games.

Just how many remains to be seen.

There's still time. But not much. And the Rebels know it.

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