Lonely at the Top

No. 14 Ole Miss, with or without a healthy Matt Snyder, is set to open a three-games series at Alabama Friday.

Before dropping two games to Arkansas over the weekend, which moved Ole Miss into a second-place tie with Auburn for second in the SEC West, the Rebels had scored upward of 100 runs over a 10-game win streak.

A healthy Matt Snyder, who has accounted for the second-most home runs and a .324 batting average, boosted the team's production. The sophomore first baseman/designated hitter provided not only a power surge, but protection for three-hole hitter Matt Smith. Smith leads the team in home runs (12) and batting average (.365).

Matt Snyder

However, Snyder tweaked his oft-injured shoulder in an 11-4 loss to the Razorbacks Friday. He was out of the lineup Saturday and Sunday, games where Ole Miss plated only three total runs.

"I thought we hit the ball well on Sunday and Friday," Smith said. "We just need to compete more. We just need to try and get things done when we get opportunities."

Snyder's status for the Rebels' upcoming trip to Tuscaloosa is day-to-day, according to head coach Mike Bianco, though he may be able to play Friday.

Ole Miss, debuting a new-look lineup Wednesday at Arkansas State, found ways to manufacture runs in a 5-2 win. Tim Ferguson had hit leadoff for most of the season, but was shifted to Snyder's customary cleanup spot, where he totaled an RBI in two at-bats. Senior third baseman Zach Miller has also handled the duties at different points during the year.

Smith, a senior outfielder, says the Rebels can adjust if Snyder were to miss any games against Alabama.

"Zach (Miller) has done good all year, I think. He's got the second-most RBI on the team and a high batting average," he said. "Snyder's a big power guy for us. We definitely miss that. But I don't think (Snyder being absent) gets us out of whack or anything like that."

A Shot in the Arm:

Now a senior, left fielder Taylor Hashman has become one of Ole Miss' most consistent offensive threats.

He is currently batting .333, which ranks second on the team, and is tied for third in home runs with seven. His 33 RBI are fourth, despite the fact he's started half as many games as seven regulars who qualify for team-leading statistics.

In 2008-09, Hashman, a former JUCO All-American at Manatee Community College, was used primarily in late-game situations.

Taylor Hashman

Whether as a defensive replacement or pinch runner, he was able to contribute offensively, even if hits were few and far between.

Hashman had a meager .210 batting average, eight RBI and two home runs as a junior.

"I personally wanted to get better and help out a lot more than I did last year," Hashman said. "I didn't get many opportunities (last year), which I didn't deserve, because I wasn't performing and doing my part."

A year later, he's a lineup regular and has hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games. He hit leadoff against Arkansas State, a first in his career, with two RBI and one run scored.

"He's always been a shot in the arm, so to speak, in the dugout," hitting coach Matt Mossberg said. "When he's not playing, he's the ultimate ‘rally the troops,' kind of guy. On the field, he does the exact same thing. He comes up with the big hit, the clutch hit.

"Even when he wasn't playing every day, he was making an impact as a pinch hitter. That's the kind of thing that the other guys value. It's encouraging, especially in the time when we were struggling. Hash was a bright light in the lineup."

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