The No. 18 Ole Miss softball team turned momentum from a historic weekend sweep over No. 16 LSU into a 7-2 victory over UT Martin Wednesday night.
The less-than-stellar weather in Martin, Tennessee, brought out the field tarp, but after an hourlong delay, the teams emerged from their respective locker rooms and stepped back on the newly soaked field.
Right hander Kaitlin Lee, a junior from Gulfport, got the start for the Rebels as they faced off against UT Martin’s Brooke Kennedy. Head coach Mike Smith has leaned heavily on Lee throughout the season as the ace has shown her worth time and time, including a complete shutout thrown against LSU last Friday.
The Rebels jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after leadoff batter Sarah Van Schaik drove in Elantra Cox with a hard hit single down the third base line. The Skyhawks answered back with a run of their own courtesy of a deep single from Jodie Duncan. As the UT Martin third baseman rounded first, leadoff batter Carly Gonzalez crossed home, tying the score up at one.
The second inning brought more hits and another Ole Miss run, this time coming off Cox’s bat. The left fielder ripped a single straight up the middle, forcing an impressive throw to third base from the Skyhawks’ center fielder, which found Grayce Majam before she found the bag. Fortunately for the Rebels, the play scored Bry Castro, and they retook the lead.
After the teams exchanged blows in the third, each adding a run to its tally, the Rebels began to pull away.
Singles from Kylan Becker and Majam drove in two additional runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, before the Rebels iced the cake in the seventh with a final RBI from Ashton Lampton.
Smith’s team accumulated 12 hits from 30 at-bats, pumping the Ole Miss team batting average up to .400 on the night. The Rebels’ offense looked near unstoppable throughout the evening, relying on a steady stream of singles and doubles for all seven RBIs.
Ole Miss’ defense sputtered at times but emerged from the matchup relatively unscathed. The Skyhawks struck out a combined four times and managed four hits from 25 at-bats.
UT Martin head coach Donley Canary pulled Kennedy after the right-handed pitcher conceded five runs in four innings of work. Sara Hooten relieved Kennedy and gave up a further four hits and two runs in her five-inning contribution.
Smith’s team hopes to capitalize on Tuesday night’s success as it travels to Gainesville, Florida, to take on the No. 1 Florida Gators. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, followed by games on Saturday and Sunday at 6p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.
The Tigers are set for a midweek face-off with University of Central Florida on Wednesday in preparation for their three-game weekend showdown with the Rebels.