The Ole Miss women’s softball team will venture outside the United States to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, this weekend to take on some new competition in the team’s second tournament of the season.
The Rebels, who are ranked in both national polls, currently sit at No. 15 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and at No. 18 in the USA Softball Poll. Ole Miss will face four teams in the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge: the University of Texas Longhorns, the University of Houston Cougars, the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights and the University of Oregon Ducks.
After returning home from last weekend’s rain-shortened Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with a 3-1 record, the Rebels are looking to dominate on the field against non-conference opponents.
The Rebels have faced most of these teams before and, historically, have recorded more losses than wins against them. Head coach Mike Smith led the Rebels to a win over Houston last season but has yet to discover how his team will fare against Texas, Rutgers or Oregon, so this weekend will truly put Smith’s coaching to the test.
The Longhorns, who are 2-2 so far this season, will be the weekend’s first obstacle for the Rebels. Texas has defeated Ole Miss the only two times they’ve met, but the Rebels have the chance to change the tide when they face off against the Longhorns at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
At 2 p.m. on Friday, the Rebels will face another challenge as they take on the Houston Cougars. The two teams have squared off five times in the past, resulting in an impressive 4-1 record for the Cougars. Although the record may be against them, the Rebels defeated Houston 12-3 last season.
The tournament will conclude on Saturday with a doubleheader for Ole Miss. The Rebels will play Rutgers at 11 a.m. followed by Oregon at 8 p.m.
Rutgers, which has never played Ole Miss before, enters the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge with a record of 2-3, having previously defeated Middle Tennessee State and Utah.
To close the weekend, the Rebels will take on the undefeated Oregon Ducks. Oregon, which is ranked No. 3 in both major polls and has already racked up a 6-0 record, beat Ole Miss the one time they played, back in 2011.
This weekend marks the first time in program history that Ole Miss softball has travelled outside of the United States.
This weekend could also be a record-breaking one for senior outfielder Elantra Cox. She’s only three hits away from breaking the school record for career base knocks and is entering the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge with 221 hits. Cox and eight other Rebels saw the field for the first time this year just last weekend and will have the chance to prove themselves yet again in this young year.
Upon return from a weekend of warm and sunny Mexico, the Rebels will return to Oxford and host back-to-back tournaments – the Red and Blue Classic and the subsequent Ole Miss Classic – and hope to keep last season’s momentum rolling in to 2018.