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Jacksonville State enters the regional riding a season-long six-game winning streak, having won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship by winning six straight elimination games in the tournament after losing their tournament opener.

"We hit .331 in the tournament and that was after going 2-for-31 in the first game," Jacksonville State head coach Jim Case said. "We got shut down pretty good in the first game. We came back and swung the bats extremely well. We might have played our best baseball that week of the whole year."

"They played a good schedule and have beaten a lot of people," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "You look at their numbers offensively, and they mirror ours. They are very similar in they have an explosive offensive and have a good mix of power and speed. They have 70-plus stolen bases and 38 home runs, which is similar to us. It's going to be a good challenge for Chris on Friday. They're not your typical No. 4 seed."

Over the seven tournament games, the Gamecocks batted .331 and held a team ERA of 2.14. Junior right-hander Zachary Fowler will get the start against Ole Miss on Friday. He has a team-high seven wins, posting a 7-7 record with a 3.58 ERA. 

"He's a guy who didn't have a lot of experience before this year on the mound," said Case of Fowler. "He played junior college and was a first baseman. He has a really nice arm. He's pitched well late in the season. He's had some stretches of brilliance, so hopefully tomorrow night he throws the way he can. If he does, we'll have a chance."

"It's their ace and the guy who's pitched in that game for them," Bianco said. "To me, we have to do what we do, especially being at home and especially being in a regional. We will lean on Chris (Ellis) to give us a great opportunity to win. Offensively, it's important that we do some things early to push the envelope and try to do some things offensively to get on the board."

Fowler started two games in the conference tournament, including a championship game victory over Tennessee Tech, where he allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Junior right-hander Travis Stout, who has 15 saves and a team-best 1.17 ERA, worked six perfect innings of relief over five tournament games.

"We had some guys that threw more than what's normal last week, and we had to," Case said. "If we don't, we're not going to advance. The question is how do they come back from that. We're OK. It's not ideal. It's not how you would set it up."

The Gamecocks, ranked No. 91 in the final official RPI rankings, have played three teams from the RPI top 50, all from the SEC, with a win against Mississippi State and a pair of losses to Alabama.

"There's a big difference in playing a team on a Tuesday night and playing a team in the first game of a regional," Case said. "We played that game for a reason, and then we played Alabama the next and played Alabama the next week. We wanted to do that in case we advanced to this tournament so that we would have experience against some very good teams."

But about that tournament JSU just won, writes Joe Medley from The Anniston Star


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