After originally planning to host the Red and Blue Classic in Oxford this weekend, Ole Miss softball will travel to Troy, Alabama, for a pair of rescheduled neutral-site games Friday due to impending weather. After another impressive showing at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, the Rebels will look to continue success against Murray State and Tennessee Tech.
Originally scheduled for a weekend of matchups against North Dakota State and Stephen F. Austin, among others, the Rebels will find themselves playing the weekend by ear.
In Puerto Vallarta, the Rebels made their biggest statement of the season in their last game against then-No. 3 Oregon. In a 1-0 extra-inning victory, the Rebels rode shortstop Paige McKinney’s lone run to the best win of the year so far. With additional wins against Texas and Rutgers, No. 16 Ole Miss showed just how deserving it is of its ranking.
With much easier games on the docket this weekend, the Rebels will look to take control of both matchups early in Troy. At 9 a.m. Friday, Ole Miss will face the first of two opponents in a double header: a Murray State team that sits at 3-5, fresh off of losses against South Alabama and Mississippi State. Immediately afterwards, the team will regroup to face a Tennessee Tech team that is 2-7 on the season and coming off of a five-inning loss against Sacred Heart. For the Rebels, these are two games that should be controllable and predictable.
For the red and blue, the key starts with senior pitcher Kaitlin Lee, who was named SEC Pitcher of the Week last week after her performance in Puerto Vallarta. In matchups against Texas and the then-No. 3 Oregon Ducks, Lee allowed no runs on only eight hits and forced six strikeouts over 13 complete innings. In the Rebels’ 1-0 victory over the Ducks, Lee took a perfect game into the fourth inning and finished with a shutout. After incredible performances in Mexico, Lee will be in the middle of the game plan with hopes of shutting out both the Racers and the Golden Eagles in Alabama. Should Lee be unable to throw the second game, Brittany Finney will presumably take to the circle.
Despite being shut out by Lipscomb and Houston, the Rebels have proven themselves to be one of the best teams in the nation with key wins against Virginia Tech, Texas and No. 5 Oregon. Finishing 3-1 in both the Sand Dollar Classic and the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge were huge confidence boosters that the Rebels will ride into Troy.
With the Ole Miss Classic bringing top programs to Oxford next weekend and a series at No. 6 Texas A&M right around the corner, the Rebels will look to continue their stellar start to the season Friday. The rest of the Rebels’ plans for the weekend are to be announced.