A season-defining series against Southern Miss awaits Rice baseball in their final homestand of the regular season. Can the Owls break through?
Weather permitting, Rice will attempt to solidify their bid for the Conference USA Tournament with a weekend series against Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles are perched atop the conference, currently the No. 1 seed taking on the Owls, who would be the No. 5 seed if the standings hold. A lot could change over the weekend. Here’s what Southern Miss brings to the table.
Projected Pitching Matchups
Friday – 2:00 pm: Matt Canterino (6-4, 2.68) vs Walker Powell (5-2 2.93)
Saturday – 2:00 pm: Evan Kravetz (4-2, 3.69) vs Stevie Powers (3-3, 4.35)
Sunday – 1:00 pm: Jackson Parthasarathy (3-7, 4.74) vs Mason Strickland (5-0, 5.26)
Southern Miss Pitching
The top two pitchers in the Southern Miss rotation have already been confirmed, but the third starting spot has yet to be announced. The Eagles have used a few different combinations and could throw several guys on Sunday. Mason Strickland and Cody Carroll (2-1, 4.08) are two of the most prominent options.
Whoever takes the third spot, Rice is in for a battle. Southern Miss leads CUSA with a 4.26 ERA. A good portion of that preeminence has come from a hard-to-hit bullpen. Three different hurlers, Hunter Stanley and Sean Tweedy in the pen and Powell in the rotation, have a WHIP of 1.10 or below, a rare feat for a collegiate pitching staff. For reference, only Matt Canterino owns a WHIP below that mark for Rice.
Keep an eye out for JC Keyes in high leverage situations. He boasts a rate of 14.0 strikeouts per nine innings, and he’s one of several options for this team to turn to in a pinch.
Southern Miss Hitting
Southern Miss is a great pitching team and an elite hitting club. They’re hitting .326 as a team in conference play with 27 home runs in 24 games. They lead CUSA in extra base hits, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and more or less every major hitting statistic.
Six everyday players are batting better than .300, led by catcher Bryant Bowen’s staggering .359 average and 1.014 OPS. He’s one of three players with 10 or more doubles (the other two being right fielder Matt Wallner and second baseman Matthew Guidry). Left fielder Gabe Montenegro brings an eight-game hitting streak into the weekend, including a staggering .500 average in his previous series against FAU.