Ole Miss softball fends off Mississippi State

Posted on Mar 23 2017 - 8:01am by Justin Dial
Teammates welcome Elantra Cox into the dugout after she makes it back to home plate. Rebels defeated Bulldogs 2-0 Wednesday.

Teammates welcome Elantra Cox into the dugout after she makes it back to home plate. Rebels defeated Bulldogs 2-0 Wednesday.

In a low-scoring affair, Ole Miss held off the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a 2-0 victory during their first and only meeting of the regular season. Kaitlin Lee started at pitcher for Ole Miss and had a great game, posting a shutout with three strikeouts and just four conceded hits on the day.

“I can’t say enough about what Kaitlin Lee came out and did,” head coach Mike Smith said. “I challenged the pitchers to come out and attack the zone and go after hitters, and Kaitlin did a great job tonight.”

In the first inning, the Rebels had an opportunity to start off on the right foot. The first three Ole Miss batters reached base safely, and the fourth, Ashton Lampton, was hit by a pitch, which forced a run to score.

“That was part of our game plan, to stay and crowd that plate on her. I said, ‘If we get hit, we get hit,’” Smith said. “It was that one run that kind of stayed throughout the ball game.”

Ole Miss had the bases loaded with no outs after scoring its first run but failed to capitalize on the opportunity.

“The coaches’ worst nightmare is bases loaded with nobody out and not scoring,” Smith said. “But we got the hit by pitch. I think that was really good, how we stood in there.”

After the first inning, the hits were few and far between for both teams. The score stayed at 1-0 for almost the entire game, but the Rebels played well defensively.

“I think the Texas A&M series kind of humbled us a bit,” Smith said. “I think it really changed our mindset and our focus. Our girls came out ready to play.”

Ole Miss struggled throughout the game to drive in runs, hitting 2-15 with runners on base and 2-10 with runners in scoring position. The offensive struggle was not limited to Ole Miss; the Bulldogs ended the game going 0-9 with runners on and registering just three total hits on the night.

“The right-handed hitters were going in trying to get hit to get on,” Lee said. “In a way, it boosted my confidence because it tells me they can’t hit it, so they’re going to get hit.”

In the bottom of the sixth, with a runner on second base, Paige McKinney hit a single to center field and advanced to second on an error by the centerfielder, which brought in the Rebels second run of the game.

“I knew the balls she had pitched me before,” McKinney said. “I was trying to focus in on those and just square something up, and it worked out for me.”

The Rebels now shift their attention to a three-game away series this weekend against the University of Tennessee.