The Tigers have struggled so far this early season and limp into Lafayette County with a 2-4 record for today's 6:30 p.m. contest at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field.
Sixth-year head coach Daron Schoenrock's team has wins over Middle Tennessee State and Bradley, with losses to MTSU, UT-Martin, Toledo, and Pittsburgh. Ironically, up next for the Tigers after playing the Rebels today is a three-game set in Memphis against Oakland, the team Ole Miss just swept.
Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco said he is pleased with his team's work to date, but he knows the Rebs (6-1) will need to pick it up a notch this week and in the weeks ahead.
"We've got to do a little better on the mound," he said Sunday afternoon. "I was really pleased with the defense all weekend. The competition's going to get better over the next few days with Memphis and Tulane."
Ole Miss and the Green Wave get together this weekend on the Tulane campus in New Orleans with games Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Memphis offense comes into the midweek contest hitting .323 as a team. Five Tigers hit .360 or better with three of those players hitting above .400. Chad Zurcher leads the way with a .440 average, while Jacob Wilson checks in at .435. Both have scored a club-best five runs. Adam McClain rounds out the top three hitters, batting .423. Tyler Huelsing is batting .391 and slugs .739. Six of his nine hits have gone for extra bases. He leads the team with four doubles.
On the mound, Tiger pitchers have posted a 4.50 ERA. Opponents hit .276 against the staff.
Sophomore right-hander Heath Hatfield will take the mound today for Memphis. He'll bring to the contest a 9.00 ERA and a 1-1 record in only three innings of work this season.
Ole Miss will counter with junior left-hander Matt Tracy, with a 1-0 mark and an ERA of 0.96. Tracy has two appearances this year and got the win in his first start of the season, a 3-2 UM victory against Arkansas State a week ago.
"I feel great," Tracy said. "I'm throwing strikes with all my pitches, and that's pretty much the reason why I've had more success than in the past."
Tracy said it wasn't always easy working through his first two years to get to this point. But now that he has, it's exciting.
"I just trusted myself and stayed confident and believed that eventually I'd get my shot," he said.
Tanner Mathis leads the Rebels in hitting with a .500 average in 16 at-bats, including a double and four RBI. David Phillips is batting .400 and leads the team in home runs with four, along with three doubles and nine RBI in 20 plate appearances.
Zach Miller paces the squad in RBI with 13 along with three doubles and a home run.
The Rebs are batting .301 as a team, while their opponents are hitting just .207. Ole Miss has 12 home runs through seven games, while their opponents have hit just three round-trippers in those same seven contests.
Ole Miss has 92 wins in 145 games against the Tigers through the years. The Rebels have dominated the matchups this decade and have won the last 12 meetings.
The last time Memphis beat Ole Miss was on April 23, 2003, when the Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak to Ole Miss with a 6-3 win in Oxford. Stephen Gostkowski, the Madison Central High School product and current New England Patriots placekicker, pitched for Memphis in that contest.
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