Dismal Departure

HOOVER, Ala. – Just when it looked like Ole Miss might have found its way again, after a short night's rest they obviously lost it.

On Friday night, Ole Miss beat Auburn 10-7 and had 12 hits in the game. By Saturday morning any sign of offense hadn't made it through the night as LSU shut out the Rebels 8-0 in the seven-inning contest and almost no hit them. Only a Matt Smith infield single prevented a no-hitter for LSU hurler Ben Alsup.

Now begs the question. Was any confidence they gained from a big win against the SEC West champs with a decent offensive showing and another win over South Carolina Wednesday all given back in Saturday's dismal performance?

"We had a good offensive night last night and took a step forward," said Smith, whose hit might have been an out had it not bounced off Alsup and slow-rolled into infield no-man's land. "I really don't think we took a step back today. It was just one of those days."

Certainly one of those bad days.

Maybe we were fooled a bit by the whole thing since the Auburn breed of Tigers had five errors in the contest and only a miraculous double play recovery at second late in the game prevented a sixth. Auburn wasn't its best Friday night, and Ole Miss (38-22) took advantage.

LSU, meanwhile, is currently at its best, it appears. The Tigers (39-20) are poised for a third straight title here. They won crowns in 2008 and 2009, and barely even got here this season as the eighth seed. Heck, they lost to Mississippi State the last day of the regular season. That's how bad things were in Baton Rouge.

Then they came to Hoover, and when LSU shows up here, all is well for the purple and gold.

Of course they have to go out and win a game Sunday. But they believe they can.

Ole Miss? Just didn't show up for this one, and who knows the reason? They admittedly wanted to show Auburn they weren't as bad as they were during the sweep last weekend in Oxford.

Rory McKean

Maybe it was flipped for LSU, that they wanted to show Ole Miss they were better than they played back in April when the Rebels beat them three times.

The truth of the matter probably is that the real Rebel offense came to play today. Matt Smith and Matt Snyder got a little help from their friends against Auburn. Against LSU, nobody showed up on offense.

"We didn't hit. We weren't focused," Smith said.

Mike Bianco couldn't find a pitcher that could slow the Tigers down Saturday. When Jordan Cooper came in with the score 8-0 and two Tigers aboard with no outs, a lot of Rebel fans had seen enough.

The way this season played out, they won't be able to watch them again either. No home NCAA Regional for two of the last three years. But a Regional somewhere, nonetheless.

They'll be a two seed and could fall to a high three depending on what happens across the country the next day or two. The Rebels were a three seed in Miami two years ago.

The good news is whoever plays Ole Miss next weekend in game one has to face Drew Pomeranz. That's any postseason team's worst nightmare.

But after that, the Rebels become fairly average. Aaron Barrett can get it done, and the collective staff can piece together a game like they did against Auburn after David Goforth started and was relieved.

But the Rebels won't get far if days like today are the norm again. This one against LSU, a team playing more like the defending national champs than at any time the past month, was downright ugly.

Ole Miss was 2-2 here, a good tournament in reality. But do they truly leave with more confidence in their abilities?

"Every team is good," Smith said. "We were 2-2. We saw some good things. We saw some bad things. There were definitely things we can improve on. I think it was definitely a confidence builder for us."

But even if the Rebels can't say for sure what affect it will all have, we'll know in the near future. Time, and a few more games, will tell us.

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