Second-half slumps have plagued Rebs

Published 11:30 am Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ole Miss catcher Holt Perdzock makes contact against Southern Miss Tuesday night at Trustmark Park. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Ole Miss catcher Holt Perdzock makes contact against Southern Miss Tuesday night at Trustmark Park. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

PEARL — After losing to Southern Miss on Tuesday night, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco didn’t want to make too much of it.

It was, after all, just one midweek game in what to this point has been a very successful season.

“I think our confidence is fine. I think we realize that at 21-5 we’re a pretty good team, we just played poorly tonight,” Bianco said after the 5-3 loss to USM.

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History, though, showed that the Rebels might be at a pivotal point in their season as they pass the 25-game mark.

In 2013, they were 21-4 with two Southeastern Conference series under their belt. They lost the next two series, went 17-20 in the second half of the season, and lost in the NCAA Tournament’s regional round.

In both 2011 and 2012, the Rebels were 18-7 after 25 games. They played .500 ball or worse the rest of the way in both seasons.

As Ole Miss (21-5, 4-2 SEC) heads to Alabama (16-8, 3-3) to begin a three-game series Friday night, it’ll try to break that trend, shake off a disappointing midweek loss, and maintain its place atop the SEC West.

“One of the things we’ve talked about all year is the toughness to handle adversity,” Bianco said after the loss to Southern Miss. “The toughness to be able to handle games like this where you don’t play your best, or when you play well and get beat. You’ve got to be able to bounce back.”

Ole Miss, which has the most total wins in the SEC, hasn’t had to deal with too much adversity this season.

It has lost back-to-back games only once, when it dropped the last two in a weekend series against No. 1 South Carolina. The Rebels responded with a four-game winning streak that included a sweep of Missouri last weekend.

Alabama, meanwhile, struggled in the first three weeks of the season but has gotten its act together since then. The Crimson Tide won 11 of 12 games before suffering a pair of one-run losses to Arkansas last weekend. It bounced back with a 10-5 midweek victory against Troy on Tuesday.

Ole Miss has won the season series against Alabama each of the last two seasons, after losing two of three to the Tide in 2010 and 2011.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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