Ole Miss had quite the ending to the 2019 season that brought them within a game of the College World Series. The Rebels have lost a lot from the 2019 roster but are reloading the talent for 2020. We’ll take a look at their 2020 season.
2019 Record: 41-27 (16-14)
Postseason: 1-2 vs Arkansas in Super Regional
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 2nd
2020 Prediction: 6th in the West
The 2019 season had a lot of ups and downs for Ole Miss. The Rebels posted just a 17-9 out of conference record with an 0-4 record against ranked opponents.
Ole Miss did well in SEC play and caught fire at the right time at the end of the season. A surprising run in the SEC Tournament was enough to secure a hosting position for the NCAA Tournament. After sweeping the regional Ole Miss fell short of making the College World Series against Arkansas.
Notable Non-Conference Games
February 14-16: No.1 Louisville 51-18, 9 RPI
February 21-23: Xavier 27-31, 66 RPI
February 25, March 31: Southern Miss 40-21, 45 RPI
February 29: East Carolina 47-18, 5 RPI
March 1: Indiana 37-23, 36 RPI
April 21: Mississippi State 52-15, 4 RPI
Ole Miss didn’t do themselves any favors with the out of conference schedule. They kick off the season against the number one team in Louisville at home. The Rebels lost the pair of midweek games against the Cardinals a year ago but will be hoping for a better outcome for 2020.
Next, they’ll have a Xavier team that struggled last season but has kept themselves relevant in recent history. Ole Miss will be hoping for a sweep but the Musketeers won’t let that be easy.
Southern Miss is always on the schedule for the midweek games. The Golden Eagles are always a team to take seriously any time they show up on the schedule. Ole Miss has had recent success against Southern Miss but will be more evenly paired for this season.
East Carolina defeated Ole Miss last year in a closely matched midweek game that nearly saw the Pirates throw a no-hitter. ECU ended their season in a super-regional with Louisville and are expected to be towards the top of the AAC once again in 2020.
Indiana had a very good season in 2019 and will be another tough matchup for Ole Miss. It will certainly be an opportunity for Ole Miss to build their resume for the NCAA Tournament.
The final “non-conference” game is against SEC opponent Mississippi State in the Governor’s Cup. The game doesn’t count towards the SEC schedule. The Bulldogs have won the previous four games, a streak the Rebels would like to see come to an end.
SEC East Opponents
April 3-5: South Carolina
April 18-20: No.2 Vanderbilt
April 24-26: @ No.4 Florida
May 1-3: @ No.5 Georgia
Not Playing: South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky
Ole Miss got the hardest possible draw for the SEC East schedule. They’ll have to face the three top 5 teams the SEC East has, with two of them being on the road.
The first weekend of April against South Carolina will be important for Ole Miss to win. They’ll need to make the most of the easier opponents before they take on an absolutely brutal April.
The trio of Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia is bound to hurt the Rebel’s SEC record. They’ll aim to avoid any sweeps, and any series win will be a big step towards the postseason.
LHP Doug Nikhazy: 9-3, 3.31 ERA
RHP Gunnar Hoglund: 3-3, 5.29 ERA
RHP Derek Diamond: Freshman
The Friday night ace role is undoubtedly going to be Doug Nikhazy’s. The Florida native did not start in the rotation in 2019 but pitched his way there, playing nearly all of SEC play in the Saturday spot.
Gunnar Hoglund struggled a lot in 2019. The Ole Miss faithful had lofty hopes for the former first-round draft pick. His fastball that was so dominant at the high school level was found much less effective among SEC bats. He has improved that pitch as well as his curveball going into 2020.
Prized newcomer Derek Diamond has a real opportunity to take the Sunday spot. The 40th round draft pick brings a solid four-pitch mix to his arsenal. Ole Miss will be hoping he can take on the challenge and be a solid Sunday starter.
Should Diamond falter the Rebels will look to seniors Greer Holston, Taylor Broadway and Austin Miller for the midweek or Sunday spot. All three saw extended outings last year and have starting experience among them. Junior Max Cioffi also may be another option.
Junior third baseman Tyler Keenan will be the centerpiece of the offense. Keenan received Second Preseason All-American Honors this season and brings the most power to the lineup. He led the team with 15 long balls last year to go along with a team-leading 66 RBIs.
Fellow classmate and infielder Anthony Servideo will also be a key bat in the lineup. After jumping around a little due to former starter Grae Kessinger, Servideo should take over the everyday spot at shortstop. He is a tough out at the plate and brings speed to the base paths with 24 steals in 2019.
Kevin Graham was another freshman that was a pleasant surprise for Mike Bianco’s squad. He played mostly DH with some first base last year and will definitely have a role this year in the everyday lineup. The lefty brings a lot of power with 10 home runs in limited time a season ago.
The greatly talented 2016 recruiting class is now mostly gone. Ole Miss has a lot of holes to fill on the offensive side. The 2020 roster is very young with just four seniors, three of which are transfers. They have a lot of youth that will need to step up on the offensive end if they want to make a run at the playoffs.
The pitching staff appears to be in good hands. Assuming Hoglund will be improved on last year, the rotation features what may be the best sophomore one-two punch for the Friday and Saturday spot. The bullpen has a lot of veteran leadership and shouldn’t be nearly as inconsistent as it was in 2019.
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