Preview: Alabama Hosts Southern Miss In Tuesday Night Matchup
Wins are hard to come by this time of year as teams make last-minute efforts to get into the NCAA tournament. Alabama's case is no different and while they did lose their weekend series to Ole Miss, the Crimson Tide made a statement with a dominant 13-4 win over the Rebels on Sunday. Alabama (23-20, 8-13 SEC) now shifts its focus to an unusually difficult midweek opponent.
Southern Miss (23-16-1) is one of the best teams in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles have already proven they can compete with SEC schools after defeating Ole Miss and Mississippi State in midweek games earlier this season.
Southern Miss has been particularly dominant on the mound. The team's 3.26 ERA is the second best team ERA in the conference. The Eagles carry many threats in the bullpen, which allows them to use multiple pitchers in any given game. Tuesday's probable starter is Cord Cockrell (2-0, 3.99 ERA, 14 SO, 2 BB). Cockrell pitched 7.0 innings and only allowed five hits in Southern Miss' win over Ole Miss.
Alabama head coach Mitch Gaspard should be concerned about Southern Miss' strong mound presence. Tide batters have continued to get down early in counts, which has led to more strikeouts and fewer runs. The Crimson Tide only scored two runs and struck out 17 times in its first two games against Ole Miss over the weekend. The team did, however, show its true potential in Sunday's dominant win.
Casey Hughston hit his team leading sixth home run on Sunday. Mikey White tallied three hits in the win, and Georgie Salem continued his hot streak by adding three hits of his own. Alabama will need to remain consistent at the plate if they want to make a late run into the post-season.
Gaspard can find comfort in knowing that the Tide's pitching in midweek games is one thing that has remained consistent. Alabama's probable starter is Nick Eicholtz (3-0, 1.86 ERA, 20 SO, 14 BB). Eicholtz allowed just three hits and one earned run in 7.0 innings pitched against Mississippi Valley State last week.
Southern Miss' strength may be on the mound, but the Eagles do have a lineup that could give Eicholtz trouble. First baseman Tim Lynch and center fielder Connor Barron have 14 home runs combined this season. In fact, Lynch and Barron each have more home runs than they do doubles. The team's most consistent hitter is Matt Durst, who leads the team in hits (48) and RBIs (23) while boasting a .310 batting average.
Alabama leads the all-time series 71-29 over Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles won both meetings last season. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 pm CT.