04 Mar


Intrastate competition was on the college menu Wednesday night, with Mississippi State topping Southern Miss 4-1 in Pearl and Ole Miss whipping Jackson State 12-1 in Oxford. It would be folly to draw too many conclusions based solely on these games, but some observations are in order: 1) USM needs to start putting the bat on the ball. 2) The hype about State’s pitching depth appears justified. 3) Ole Miss’ “slump” appears to be over. 4) JSU should be focused on its SWAC opener this weekend. … USM (4-4) managed three hits and struck out 20 times against State. The Golden Eagles are batting .179 as a team with 83 strikeouts in 240 at-bats. That really needs to change. … State (6-2 and a consensus top 10 team) got a great start from Houston Harding, who fanned nine in five innings, and brilliant relief work from three others, including Preston Johnson, a Hinds Community College transfer who punched out six in two innings in his D-I debut. Bulldogs pitchers have a 3.00 ERA and 111 K’s over 72 innings. … After scoring just 10 runs in losing a three-game set to Central Florida, Ole Miss (7-2 and a consensus top 10) scored 28 in back-to-back wins against Memphis and JSU. The Rebels put up seven in the first inning vs. JSU’s rattled starter Brandon Valentin. Tim Elko, who hit three homers in 14 games in 2020, homered for the second straight day. … JSU, 0-8 all-time vs. UM, may be outmanned against SEC competition but should still be a force in the SWAC. The Tigers (3-5) visit Alabama State this weekend. Keep an eye on Chandler Dillard, a former Germantown High star and Copiah-Lincoln CC transfer who is batting .333 with nine RBIs. He hit .426 in 2020.

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