Rebels gear up for SEC championship in final regular-season road trip

Posted on May 5 2017 - 8:00am by Grayson Weir

After a historic whirlwind weekend series victory against No. 13 Alabama and a midweek rainout, Ole Miss softball will close out its regular season with a three-game series on the road against Missouri.

The Rebels, who are currently 8-13 in the SEC and 34-18 overall, find themselves sitting eighth in the SEC standings, looking to continue their hot streak going into the SEC Tournament. The Tigers, however, have struggled on the year. Hovering just over the .500 mark, they will look for just their second victory in the last eight matchups.

While the Rebels should have no problems leaving Columbia with two of three in the bag, head coach Mike Smith needs to be sure to keep their mindsets in check. The Tigers, who have only posted one series victory all season, have taken a game in each of their matchups against ranked SEC opponents.

The biggest factor for Ole Miss, as it has been all year, is pitching.

Junior Kaitlyn Lee leads the team in every pitching category and has carried the team for a majority of SEC play. After starting 0-6 in league action, the Rebels have since gone 8-7, and Lee is a big reason for that. Since the start of the Kentucky series back on March 31, she’s gone 5-5 with a 1.66 ERA and accounted for 67 percent of the innings pitched. All but one of her starts have resulted in complete games, and she’s tallied two shutouts in that period with only 16 earned runs allowed in 67.2 IP. With Lee in the circle again this weekend, the advantage should be in favor of the Rebels.

That being said, in their most recent series, the visiting Tigers’ hurlers limited No. 17 LSU to seven runs over the three games in Baton Rouge. Producing a 1.84 ERA and holding teams to a minuscule .209 batting average on the road is not easy, so the Rebel bats must heat up early.

On offense, recent co-player of the week Kylan Becker had two walk-off hits in the series against Alabama and posted a .400 batting average with six hits and two RBIs. For the Rebels to leave Columbia victorious, Becker must continue to roll, alongside Paige McKinney and Elantra Cox, who have hit well all year.

Although they are on the road with Knoxville on their minds, the Rebels should have no trouble handling the Missouri Tigers — even if it requires their 10th walk-off of the year.