/Graham, Ewing prove how one player can make all the difference

Graham, Ewing prove how one player can make all the difference

Plenty. Take a look at these two Mississippi teams. Ole Miss won seven consecutive games and four against nationally ranked teams on the road. Kevin Graham, a senior left fielder, is hitting.572 with four runs home, seven runs scored, and 10 runs batted-in during that streak. Graham, who is known for his sweet swing, was on the sidelines with a fractured wrist from March 6 to April 8. The Rebels won nine and lost eight games during his absence. The Rebels were 22-11 before and after his injury. They were ranked No. 2 in the nation at 10-1. Graham was ranked No. 2 in the country when he was hurt. Graham is not solely responsible for the Rebels seven-game win streak. It is true that Graham’s presence as the clean up hitter makes Ole Miss’ batting order seem so much stronger. Tim Elko, the 3-hole batter, is able to see far more pitches. When Graham is on the on deck circle, it’s a challenge for opposition pitchers to think twice about trying to pitch around Elko. Graham changes the whole lineup. Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco stated Sunday night that it was difficult to navigate our lineup with Kevin Graham right there. “The guy is a natural hitter. That was his same swing when he signed up for us in the ninth grade. “The guy couldn’t swing the bat for four-and-a half weeks, and now look at how he’s doing.” Ole Miss has settled upon a much better pitching rotation recently. Southern Miss was No. 1 in the land after winning 14 consecutive games. Reece Ewing, the Golden Eagles’ left fielder, was hurt in an accident that resulted in them losing their 3-hole hitter and left fielder. Ewing broke his hand against Rice, and the Eagles went 32-8 overall. Ewing was out of the nine remaining games. Southern Miss was 4-5 in those nine games. Ewing played a crucial role in the Eagles’ win over UTSA on Friday night. Ewing was not the only one responsible for the series win that gave the Eagles a three game lead in Conference USA with three games remaining. His presence was crucial. Ewing batting against UTSA 13 times. Ewing reached base eight times with six walks and a double. The Eagles batters were often left with runners on base while he was gone, often chased pitches out of the strike zone. Scott Berry, Southern Miss coach, was impressed by his patience upon his return. Berry stated that Reece Ewing doesn’t like to swing at pitches outside of his zone. “The guy hasn’t seen the field for I don’t know how many years, but he doesn’t get himself out.” It was almost as if other Southern Miss batters took Ewing’s lead, waited for the pitch to strike, then paid the pitcher. On Sunday, they hit six home runs. Here’s what happened to both the Eagles’ Ewing and the Rebels’ Graham. They couldn’t take batting practice during all the games they missed. This was not like the Major Leagues. Before they were able to return to the lineup, they didn’t receive rehab assignments. Ewing had his cast removed on Thursday, and was back in line on Friday. Graham’s recent tear couldn’t have come at a better time for Ole Miss. The school has shot up to No. After falling in the 60s, 38 RPI. After falling in the 60s, the Rebels have made a comeback and are now back in the NCAA Tournament picture. Texas A&M (17-10, 33-16 and No. 20 RPI) will be visiting Oxford for a weekend series of three games. Nationally ranked Southern Miss still has three regular season games left to play and is very likely to host an NCAA Regional. To win the CUSA regular-season title, the Eagles must beat Middle Tennessee to secure the title. Then they need to play well at the Conference USA Tournament. I don’t know how much the NCAA selection committee considers what happened when key players were absent from the roster. Graham at Ole Miss, and Ewing at Southern Miss clearly make their teams more likely to be in the postseason.