For the first time ever, Ole Miss softball has won a series over LSU in Oxford, as the No. 22 Rebels shutout the No. 11 Tigers twice in a doubleheader Friday afternoon.
Behind a dominant pitching staff against one of the nation’s top offenses coming in, the Rebels (29-13, 5-9 SEC) have now won five of their last eight league contests, clinching the series against the Tigers (32-11, 8-6 SEC).
Ole Miss snapped a six year losing streak to LSU in games played in Oxford, and snapped a five-year streak overall in the series against its rival. Head coach Mike Smith earned his 100th career win as Ole Miss’ head coach, in what were the sixth and seventh wins against a top-25 team this season.
Game One Recap – Ole Miss 1, LSU 0
Ole Miss’ Kaitlin Lee and LSU’s Carley Hoover went back-and-forth in an extra-inning pitchers’ duel in game one of the two-game set, before eighth inning heroics by Miranda Strother lifted the Rebels to a walk off victory.
Lee was dominant from the start, allowing only three hits to the nation’s 19th-ranked offense, and struck out five in what was her second-straight complete game shutout, and fourth in her last six starts.
LSU put its leadoff hitter aboard in the first off an error in the outfield, but two-straight putouts kept the Tigers from doing any damage. Lee came back in the second to work back-to-back strikeouts ending the top half, before again retiring the Tigers in order in the third.
Ole Miss had a chance in the third after Dylinn Stancil reached on a HBP and a Paige McKinney sac bunt moved her over, but a nice play on the infield kept the Rebels off the board as they stranded two in scoring position.
After Lee cruised through the fourth with no issues, the Rebels loaded the bases in the home half after a Strother walk, Sarah Van Schaik single, and Ashton Lampton fielders’ choice, but Hoover worked out of the jam retiring three straight to keep the game scoreless.
LSU got its first hit of the game in the fifth and eventually moved the runner to third, but Lee again worked around it. The Tigers then put two on in the sixth after a leadoff single and a bunt single, but Kylan Becker helped snap the momentum when she handled a fly to right, then fired in to the infield, when McKinney handled the relay and threw a bullet to home getting the lead runner out, who tried to score from second.
After neither team could muster any offense in the seventh, the two clubs headed to the eighth for an extra-inning affair, but it wouldn’t last long as Strother stepped in with one out and cranked a solo shot to straightaway center, giving the Rebels their fifth walk-off win of the season.
She, Elantra Cox and Van Schaik finished with Ole Miss’ three hits, and Becker, Strother and Van Schaik also drew a walk each.
Game Two Recap – Ole Miss 1, LSU 0
Game two followed in similar fashion as the two sides managed just a combined nine hits, but this time it was decided in regulation. Not to be outdone, Morgan Bruce got the starting nod in the nightcap and gave up only three hits and three walks in 5.1 innings of work, while Lee entered for the final 1.2 frames earning her first save.
Both teams combined for five 1-2-3 innings, as the only run came in the third off a hit-and-run, forcing an LSU error, and Ole Miss held on the rest of the way.
Bruce allowed a double in the second, but stranded her there, before going on to retire 11 of the final 16 batters she faced. The Rebels scored the only run they would need in the third after McKinney and Courtney Syrett both singled back up the middle, before Cox rolled a grounder to short, she was safe on an infield hit, and an errant throw trickled past first allowing McKinney to score and give Ole Miss a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers would threaten in the sixth after a leadoff single and 1-out walk, before Lee entered in relief and ended the threat. LSU again got two on in its last chance in the seventh, but Lee again came through in a pressure situation to seal the 1-0 victory.
At the plate, Cox, Becker, McKinney and Syrett all tallied a hit, and McKinney scored the only run. Bruce earned her eighth win to improve to 8-4, while Lee earned Ole Miss’ first save of the season.