It's clearly working, whatever you want to call it.
Of course all involved wanted the senior righty to remain in the bullpen. It's where he likes it best. He even admitted he was still a reliever Sunday after one of those pitching performances that could best be described as "Head-esque." Stephen would have been proud.
With 13 strikeouts against the Wildcats and a no-hitter midway through, Bittle looked his best ever. When Phillip Irwin, Pomeranz and Bittle are all three on as they were this weekend, even with Drew's illness scrambling things a bit, this team has the potential to win every weekend.
This team has made a bigtime move the past few games. They've won six in a row, which was every one they played last week. If they'd somehow gotten those two one-run losses at LSU to go their way – oh well, it's baseball. It happens, so let's don't re-visit.
Let's look ahead. Two games this midweek against New Orleans in Oxford. It's a chance to build on the momentum and winning they've experienced lately. It's a chance for a letdown, too, but I don't see that happening.
They've worked hard, at 22-8 and 8-4 in the league, to get into the thick of not only the SEC race but also the Regional hosting picture. They're right there on both – with a long way to go, of course.
UNO begins a nine-game road trip with Tuesday night's game here. The Privateers are 13-16 overall and just swept Grambling.
But they have had their share of defensive problems, committing six errors in Sunday's 17-8 win over the Tigers and a whopping 14 in the three games over the weekend.
Nathan Baker will start Tuesday and Brett Bukvich will start Wednesday. Neither of those has pitched his best yet this season. When both step up and are even more effective, the Rebels will have quite a starting five for the stretch run and tournament time.
Rory McKean should be well rested. I know he was a bit tired a week ago from several outings. But he didn't throw in any of the three games with UK, so that has to be a positive for the junior righty.
Looks like winter baseball is back for the games vs. UNO. Hopefully it will warm up by the USC games here this weekend and we'll have baseball weather like we had vs. UK, which was terrific for this time of year.
The Lady Rebel golf team held its first tournament in 10 years over the weekend and did well. Ole Miss finished second out of 14 teams. Tulane won the title.
Ole Miss senior All-American Dori Carter won the individual crown with rounds of 73-73-71 at the Country Club of Oxford course (formerly Grand Oaks).
Oregon State was third and Missouri was fourth. Ole Miss won Missouri's tournament back in the fall.
Carter finished tied for first place with Linn Gustafsson of Tulane as each player had a three-round total score of 217, resulting in a sudden death playoff beginning on the fourth hole.
After posting a bogey on the fourth hole earlier in the afternoon, Carter birdied the hole to win the championship.
"It was an unbelievable feeling when I hit my putt and won the tournament," Carter said. "I don't really think it has even hit me yet. It was also really special to win this tournament at home in front of all the Ole Miss fans. I hit a really good shot onto the green and then I just trusted my putt."
Amazingly it was Carter's first collegiate victory.
"Dori was spectacular and I am so proud of her winning her first tournament in the fashion that she did," UM head coach Michele Drinkard said. "It means so much for her to win it as a senior, at home and in a playoff situation."
Tulane winning the event was amazing since the Green Wave program is back for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The women's golf program there was shut down for three school years. The lineup for Tulane in the Lady Rebel Intercollegiate was three freshmen and two sophomores.
What once had to appear a bleak situation for the Green Wave program must now look bright after their tourney win in Oxford.
Men's tennis, second nationally, wrapped up its home season with a romp over Vanderbilt Sunday. We'll catch up with the team before they depart for their final three regular season matches, at LSU, at Arkansas and at State.
Win them all and an overall SEC title is theirs alone.
Women's tennis, ranked 27th in the country, split over the weekend, winning at Kentucky and losing at Vanderbilt. The ladies have the opposiite schedule from the men, hosting LSU and Arkansas this weekend and then hosting Mississippi State the following weekend.
The men's golf team is hosting its annual tourney at Reunion in Madison today and Tuesday. If you're in the Jackson area, catch some college golf and support Coaches Ernest Ross and Ryan Potter and the Rebel golf team.
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