Entering the final day of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge Ole Miss softball was 1-1 in the tourney and had two tough games ahead.
Ole Miss softball (6-2) had a rough Friday in Puerto Vallarta and were coming off a 6-0 nothing shutout loss to Houston. The Rebels were looking at a Saturday filled with action as they would have to face two tough teams. In the early game the Rebels had to face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Of course, the second game which was clearly the showcase game pitted No.15 Ole Miss against the No.3 Oregon Ducks.
The going wasn’t easy for the Rebels as both teams represented tough competition for the Rebels. Rutgers (3-6) was coming off 2 straight losses in the Challenge, the last a 10-0 game to No.3 Oregon. Of course, the Ducks were coming into their game against the Rebels riding a 9 game winning streak. Their three previous games in the challenge were all wins by shutout. However, before the Rebels could luck ahead to the Ducks they had to tackle Rutgers.
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Ole Miss softball knew they needed a big game offensively against Rutgers. The Rebels didn’t waste any time turning up the heat at the plate and got out to an early 2-0 lead after the 1st. The Rebels picked up a lone run in the 2nd and two more runs in the 3rd to have a 5-0 lead headed in the 4th.
Ole Miss scored 2 more runs in the top of the 5th to take a 7-0 lead. However, Rutgers managed to get 1 run in the bottom. The Rebels then scored to runs in the 6th to take a 9-1 lead which would be the final. Of course, the Rebels had 13 hits against Rutgers which powered them but Ole Miss pitching did their part.
In The Circle
Coach Mike Smith gave freshman left-hander Anna Borgen the start against the Scarlet Knights. Borgen went 4 complete innings allowing no runs on only 5 hits. Borgen did have 1 K. Senior left-hander Alyssa Clayton entered the game in the 5th and allowed 1 unearned run on 2 hits. Clayton had 2 Ks while allowing 1 BB. Of course, this one-two punch will be effective going thru the season.
At The Plate
Against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights the Rebels had 8 hitters combine for 9 runs on 13 hits. Four Rebels had multiple hits in the game. Junior transfer Celeste Wood led all Rebels with a 3 for 4 performance at the plate. Wood had 1 RBI and scored 3 runs. Seniors Alex Schneider and Paige McKinney both went 2 for 3 in the game. Schneider and McKinney each scored 2 runs while Schneider also had 2 RBI.
Freshman Abbey Lathem had a big game as she also went 2 for 3. Lathem had 3 RBI and scored a run. Other Rebels with hits against the Scarlet Knights were freshman Ally Mena and junior Kylan Becker. Mena was 1 for 3 at the plate with a RBI while Becker went 1 for 4 with a RBI and a run scored. Senior Elantra Cox was 1 for 4 at the plate while red-shirt sophomore Autumn Gillespie went 1 for 2.
The Oregon Game
This was really the game every Ole Miss softball wanted to see. We really wanted a true test of what the Rebels are made of this season and we found out. Of course, this was a game many of us had heard Ole Miss didn’t have a shot at winning. Some of the softball pundits believed the Oregon Ducks (9-1) would simply run thru the competition in Puerto Vallarta. They did pretty much just that until they met the Rebels. There’s not much to say about this game other than it was a pitching slug-fest for 9 innings. The summary is fairly short and sweet.
In The Circle
Mike Smith went with the Rebels ace senior Kaitlin Lee (4-0) for the start against the Ducks. Lee was outstanding as she pitched 9 complete innings, giving up no runs and allowing only 4 hits. Lee picked up the win and was named Puerto Vallarta College Challenge MVP. We’ve seen Lee in these kind of games before and when she is solid she is unstoppable.
At The Plate
Against the Ducks ace Megan Kleist 2 Rebels combined for just 3 hits in the contest. Keep in mind Kleist flagged 16 Rebels in the game. Kleist is a very good pitcher. Junior transfer Celeste Wood was 2 for 3 against Kleist. However the biggest hit of the game or this season thus far was made by senior Elantra Cox. Cox went 1 for 4 on the night but had the walk-off hit which scored senior Paige McKinney in the bottom of the 9th.
The Rebels (6-2) were able to defeat No.3 Oregon 1-0 and the win could very well be the biggest win in Ole Miss softball history. The Puerto Vallarta College Challenge was indeed a challenge for Ole Miss however the Rebels finished 3-1 over the weekend. Of course, besides MVP Lee was also named to the All-Tourney Team alongside teammates junior Kylan Becker and freshman Abbey Lathem. Great job Ole Miss softball.
The Rebels will be returning home to host the Red and Blue Classic which will begin Friday February 23rd in Oxford. The Rebels have five scheduled games over three days. Ole Miss will begin with two games on Friday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville and North Dakota State. Of course, we’ll have more on Ole Miss softball later in the week. Hotty Toddy!