Rebels prepare for big day three in NCAA Regionals

Posted on May 19 2019 - 9:53am by Joshua Clayton

The Ole Miss softball team is 2-1 in the 2019 NCAA Oxford Regional, which puts them in position for a crucial Sunday at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.

The Rebels will need to defeat the No. 7 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns twice on Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals.

The Ragin’ Cajuns extended their win streak to 29 in a pitcher’s duel on Saturday afternoon to put the Rebels in the elimination bracket. Both Molly Jacobsen and Louisiana’s Summer Ellyson were on another level in the matchup, allowing only three hits each. The difference was Ole Miss’s two errors, especially one from Autumn Gillespie in the third inning.

The junior catcher caught a pitch and with the Ragin’ Cajuns showing bunt, the runners at the corners were caught in between bases. Gillespie attempted to throw Keeli Milligan out at second, but the throw sailed into the outfield to the fence. Both Milligan and Cassidy Chaumont were able to score on the error.

“We were just trying to be aggressive, that’s what we were doing. We had the runner going back to third base. And I think Autumn (Gillespie) saw that she thought that runner was going back to second base and was kind of going in between,” head coach Mike Smith said after the loss. “She got aggressive with it. Maybe we probably should have held that one up and let’s reset. Autumn’s won a lot of games being aggressive for us this year trying to pick somebody off with her arm. It just didn’t happen.”

Other than the hiccup against the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Rebels have been firing on all cylinders this weekend. They opened up their campaign with a 12-0 victory over Chattanooga in five innings on Friday. Brittany Finney and Ava Tillma combined for the shutout. Finney got the win with 5 strikeouts in three innings pitched.

Ole Miss Softball vs Louisiana in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament Oxford Regional at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford, MS. Photo by Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

The Rebels did the same thing to Southeast Missouri in the loser’s bracket to avoid elimination on Saturday. Ole Miss scored eight runs in the opening inning on the way to a 10-0 win in five innings.

“I challenged (the team) to throw the first punch and keep going at (Southeast Missouri). We put up an eight-spot and that really helped settle some nerves,” Smith said. “It’s nice to take that opening inning, especially being a little bit different and hitting first instead of being on the field at your own place. It was good.”

The Ole Miss bats will need to match the dominant pitching on Sunday for the Rebels to step over Louisiana on their way to a Super Regional.

The first game is scheduled for 2 p.m. If the Rebels win, they’ll play again at 4:30 p.m.