Ole Miss softball is off to its best start in school history after sweeping the Red and Blue Classic this weekend.
The Rebels are now 19-3 on the season after garnering victories over Penn State (twice), Belmont (twice) and the University of Massachusetts.
After falling behind 3-2 in the fourth inning, the Rebels scratched across a run in the bottom of the sixth when junior Dakota Matiko laid down a beautiful bunt scoring Courtney Syrett from third. Syrett had reached base to lead off the inning with a hit-by-pitch.
The game eventually went to extra innings and international tiebreaker rules were in effect. The international tiebreaker rules provide each team a start with a runner on second and nobody out.
The Nittany Lions had first shot, but the Rebels and star pitcher Madi Osias got out of the eighth inning without allowing a run.
The Rebels started with freshman Ashton Lampton on second base, and the Nittany Lions elected to walk Matiko. Sophomore Grayce Majam laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Lampton and Matiko into scoring position before Kylan Becker’s heroics. Becker laced a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a 4-3 Rebel victory.
“Offensively, I felt like we swung the bats pretty good first game,” head softball coach Mike Smith said. “It was a close ball game. I thought we had our chances early to separate us a little bit but we battled.”
The second game of the day was dominated by sophomore pitcher Elisha Jahnke. Jahnke held the Belmont Bruins hitless through five innings. The Bruins finally got to Jahnke then, scoring three runs, however only two were earned. The Rebels would go on to win 9-5.
“She was kind of mixing speeds a little bit,” Smith said of Jahnke’s performance. “She moves the ball around the plate, and that makes her successful.”
On Saturday, the Rebels were able to win two more games, defeating UMASS 1-0 and Penn State 7-6.
The story of the first game was the dominating performance from freshman pitcher Krista Jacobs. Jacobs went six innings, and gave up her first hit of the contest with one out remaining in the fifth inning.
The Rebels were able to scratch across the only run of the ball game in the fifth inning. Freshman Hailey Lunderman reached first on a bunt that she beat to first base. Lunderman found herself on third base when Majam stepped to the plate. Majam promptly smacked a single to right field to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead.
The Rebels were able to hold on as Jacobs recorded three outs in the sixth before handing the ball to Osias in the seventh. Osias shut down UMASS in the top of the seventh giving the Rebels their third victory of the weekend.
In the fourth game, Ole Miss once again found themselves in a close contest. The Rebels were leading 6-3 heading to the top of the seventh inning, but the Nittany Lions wouldn’t go away. They scratched across three runs to tie the Rebels to send the game to the bottom of the seventh in a 6-6 tie.
Ole Miss, however, would respond scoring the game-winning run when sophomore Alex Schneider sent a ball over the Penn State center fielder’s head, driving in Paige McKinney to give the Rebels a 7-6 victory.
It was Madi Osias’ day on Sunday — the Rebel softball team completed a 5-0 weekend with an 8-0 win over Belmont. Osias went four innings, allowing just one hit and no runs en route to picking up her tenth win of the season, and Ole Miss improved to 19-3.
“Madi threw a great ball game. Any time you can dominate an offense like that, she just kind of had her way with the hitters,” head coach Mike Smith said. “I’m proud of what she did. She’s thrown a lot in the last couple of weeks.”
Ole Miss tallied nine hits, two of them coming from leadoff hitter Elantra Cox. Center fielder Miranda Smother had two RBIs in the win.
– Collin Brister