Softball’s Ole Miss Classic kicks of today; Rebels hope to impress

Posted on Mar 2 2018 - 7:56am by Maison Brooks-Tolley

Honing momentum from last season, Rebel softball is gearing up to host the Ole Miss Classic, this weekend at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. The Rebels are scheduled to take on UT Martin on Friday, Saint Louis and Chattanooga on Saturday, and then close out the weekend with Southern Miss on Sunday.

After the Rebels collected their sixth consecutive win of the season against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, hopes are high that the team can roll this early momentum into a deep postseason run later this year.

Kaitlin Lee pitches during game against Kentucky. Rebels win 4-2 Sunday, April 2. (Courtesy of Josh McCoy)

The Rebels’ fierce start is no surprise after the program’s success last season. Last year, for the first time in program history, the Ole Miss softball team won the SEC Championship by defeating the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

During that tournament, Ole Miss pitcher Kaitlin Lee turned plenty of heads with her impressive performances. Lee pitched through all 28 innings, across four games, including two complete games on the final day. She was named MVP of the entire SEC Tournament as the first championship-winning pitcher to throw every inning in the tournament since 2010.

As the 2018 season gets underway, Lee continues to prove she hasn’t lost her hot streak.

After delivering two strong performances during the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge tournament, Lee earned the title of SEC Pitcher of the Week. With Lee in the mix, Rebel batters are able to play relaxed from the get-go, trusting their ace will control the defensive side of things.

Preseason ranked top-20 in the nation, the Rebels began their season in Gulf Shores, where they captured wins over Virginia Tech, Florida A&M and Lamar, rounding out their opening weekend with a record of 3-1. The Rebs then traveled to sunny Mexico, where they secured another three wins out of four games.

Looking ahead to the Ole Miss Classic, the Rebels will hope to further refine their game and collect a few more wins. UT Martin looks menacing after winning four of its last six contests. The Skyhawks hold high hopes that their trio of strong players — Alicia Hansen, Gracyn McBride and Jodie Duncan — who each posted a batting average nearing .400 for the past week, will lead them to victory.

After last year’s season of “first achievements” for the program, Ole Miss softball could emerge on the national stage this year. After getting ranked No. 14 by the NFCA Coaches poll and No. 15 by USA Softball, that does not seem an unrealistic goal. This season marked the first time in program history that the Rebels have been ranked in either preseason poll, let alone both.

The Ole Miss coaching staff also earned the NFCA Division/Regional Coaching Staff of the Year award, capping off a record-breaking 2017.

First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Oxford.