Kaitlin Lee was obviously the story of the Ole Miss’ SEC championship run, pitching all 28 innings and allowing only three runs. She struck out 12 in 28 innings, which is a bit more than average for her. She was electric, and the rest of the team says they fed off of her energy. I absolutely loved watching her since the 5’5” pitcher wears the underdog title on her sleeve.
After the championship game, one of the analysts used the trite and cliched “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog” analogy, and I cringed, but it’s applicable here. Lee was only recruited by Delta State out of high school. She quickly transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast CC where she earned a 1.70 ERA as a freshman. The next year, she finished with a 22-4 record and a 0.84 ERA, good enough to be named a NJCAA Division II All-American. And then Ole Miss came calling. She wasn’t some mega-prospect out of high school. Her story is certainly one that fans and media are salivating over.
But she wasn’t the only reason for Ole Miss’ first conference title in program history.
The bats came alive for the Rebels.
The team, which came into the tournament hitting an abysmal .195 in SEC play, roared to a .311 tournament finish as a team. They mostly did it on singles, hitting just two doubles and one home run all tournament, but it worked. Paige McKinney led all batters, going 6-for-12 for a .500 average. Kylan Becker was close behind with .416 followed by Miranda Strother and Elantra Cox who each batted .400 for the weekend.
Essentially, the best Rebel batters did what they needed to get wins and advance. It’s criminal that they’re not getting more attention. Oddly, Strother and Cox were selected to the All-Tournament team, while McKinney and Becker were not. I don’t know… it doesn’t make sense. Becker even plays in the outfield, like Cox and Strother, so it’s not a problem of position. I digress.
The defense didn’t commit errors.
The Rebels committed one error in four games. During conference play, the Rebels were second in the league in fielding, which helped make up for their lackluster offense. Well, when that fielding prowess is still there, thanks to great work by Ashton Lampton, Paige McKinney, and Dylinn Stancil (among others), this team is capable of some really excellent play. As evidenced by their silencing of No. 1 Florida, No. 15 Alabama and No. 21 LSU en route to their first ever title.
So they’re hosting a regional as the No. 12 seed.
Tickets for the entire weekend’s games cost just $25. If I were anywhere near Oxford, I’d be there. It should be a really fun weekend, with UNC, Arizona State, and Southern Illinois coming to town. The Rebels’ first game is Friday night at 8:30 p.m. CT against the Salukis. If you haven’t attended a game there before, there’s objectively no better time.