#13 Ole Miss, the twelve seed in the softball postseason, hosts #22 Arizona State, UNC, and Southern Illinois this weekend for a double-elimination tournament. The Rebels don’t have the hardest road to a super regional, but it’s not going to be easy either.
Tonight, the Rebels face Southern Illinois (33-22, 17-8 in the Missouri Valley Conference) which boasts a 88 RPI. This should be the easiest game of the regional, since UNC and Arizona State are both in the top 35 in RPI. Southern Illinois is a capable team though, having beaten most of the teams it should have. Against State and Kentucky though, the Salukis dropped all three contests. Even in a weak conference, SIU only has three hitters batting over .300 on the year. The Rebels are likely to face SIU’s best pitcher, Brianna Jones, who has done quite well on the year, going 18-12 as a starter with a 2.18 ERA.
If the Rebels beat SIU, they’ll face the winner of ASU and UNC, both of which are strong teams. ASU is a powerful hitting team, having more than doubled Ole Miss’ home run total on the season. As for pitching, the Sun Devils have three starters with sub-3 ERAs despite playing in the monumentally difficult Pac-12. The Sun Devils are going to be a tough game, should the Rebels get to them.
UNC hits .290 as a team, so expect them to put up runs against anyone. The trouble the Tarheels face is past ace Brittany Pickett (21-8, 2.63 ERA), there’s not much in the way of pitching. The pitcher with the next highest innings pitched sports a 5.17 ERA. Not too good.
This isn’t going to be an easy regional, mostly because of Arizona State. Any team could beat the Rebels though with the right turn of events.
How to watch
First pitch: 8:30 p.m. CT
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Ole Miss: Kaitlin Lee (20-10, 1.78 ERA)
SIU: Brianna Jones (18-12, 2.14 ERA)