The Ole Miss softball team has only played four games, but some interesting storylines have already emerged. Here’s a quick segment I wrote last week that previewed a little bit of this year. It’s worth a read if you haven’t seen it just to get up to speed with what’s going on with the program, generally. Suffice it to say, Mike Smith has really turned around a program that languished in ineptitude for many years.
This weekend, though a very small sample, answered a few questions, at least in the short term. First of all, the newcomers are likely to make a difference this year. Again, I stress there’s a small sample size, but there are some interesting statistics and just general points of note. We saw new pitchers making an impact and new position players making a difference in the batter’s box. I saw nothing to suggest this team won’t be fun to watch again this year.
The question coming into the weekend was how much Elisha Jahnke, last year’s second best pitcher would pitch. In my head, I was wondering whether she would be the first or second pitcher we’d see. Ultimately, she only pitched one inning in relief, giving up a hit and a walk. Considering that this new staff gave up one earned run in four games, I think her lack of innings may be a sign of what the newcomers have to offer.
Juco transfer Kaitlin Lee pitched twice, going 1-1 and allowing the weekend’s only earned run (in a game Ole Miss ultimately lost 1-0 against North Dakota State, a top 30 team). In 14 innings pitched, she struck out five and walked no one with an opponent BA of just .128.
Sophomore Alyssa Clayton started the Rebels’ second game, one that ended in a five-inning mercy rule. It wasn’t Clayton’s best day statistically, since she gave up five hits and three walks in just five innings, but she did what she needed to get out of several tough situations.
True freshman Morgan Bruce was the only other Rebel pitcher this weekend, throwing six innings with an opposing batting average of just .130.
Brittany Finney, the sophomore transfer from Oklahoma didn’t pitch at all either. She did, however, hit and play first base.
What about the offensive effort?
Well, it wasn’t great. The team hit .283 on the weekend. That being said, three of the top four averages on the team came from freshmen. Sophomore Kylan Becker hit .500 on the weekend, going 7/14. Freshmen Alyssa Gonzalez, Kaylee Horton, and Dylinn Stancil combined to go 8/24 (.300 average) as the next three best hitters. Brittany Finney had a bad weekend, going just 1/11, but it’s clear she’s going to be expected to play a large role this season (seemingly based on her power potential).
So what’s next?
Ole Miss plays #4 Oklahoma today at 2 CT to kick off a tournament in Houston. With five games this weekend, there should be a lot more to talk about next week.