Fifth-ranked Mississippi State and No. 11 Ole Miss may be playing for than in-state bragging rights this weekend at Dudy Noble Field.
Friday night, the Bulldogs (18-7-1, 4-2 SEC) entertain Ole Miss (20-5, 2-4) in a crucial SEC baseball series, with SEC and national implications. The Ole Miss-MSU winner could win the Western Division title, earn a national seed or host a Regional in June.
Southern Miss, tied with Florida Atlantic for first place in Conference-USA, travels to Charlotte for game one at 5 p.m. Friday at Hayes Stadium.
The MSU-Ole Miss series opener features a matchup of two stellar right-handed pitchers. Brady Bramlett (4-1) leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally with 13.06 strikeouts per nine innings. Dakota Hudson (3-1) has a solid 1.13 ERA.
Both teams are capable of scoring runs.
Ole Miss has four players hitting over .300, led by Henri Lartique at .357. Tate Blackman is at .341 with 28 hits and 21 RBI. J.B. Woodman's at .322 with a team-high four homers and 22 RBI. Colby Bortles is batting .321 with three homers and 22 RBI.
MSU's explosive offense is led by Jacob Robson, who's hitting .379, 10 stolen bases and three triples. Reid Humphreys and Jack Kruger are also batting over .300 with 11 doubles and three homers each.
Ole Miss has dominated the series lately, including last year's sweep at Swayze Field. The Rebels have won the last three weekend series against MSU, including five of the past six in Starkville.
Southern Miss-Charlotte: The Golden Eagles (19-7, 5-1) have won their first two C-USA series of the year. Southern Miss won its first seven games of the season.
The Golden Eagles are expected to send unbeaten Cord Cockrell (4-0) on the mound against Sean Geoghegan (1-3) for the first game. Nick Johnson and Kirk McCarty are expected to start games two and three. Jake Sandlin is the Golden Eagles' top hitter, batting .380 followed by Tim Lynch's .362 mark with six home runs and 29 RBI.
T.J. Nichting leads the 49ers in hitting at .359. Reece Hampton and Logan Sherer are at .350 and .346 respectively.