Ole Miss softball is heading to the super regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The Rebels scored seven unanswered runs during a 7-2 win over North Carolina on Sunday, clinching the Oxford regional and booking a ticket to face No. 5 national seed UCLA on the West Coast next weekend. Ole Miss swept through its regional—the first it had ever hosted—by outscoring Southern Illinois, Arizona and UNC 17-2 over three games.
There’s something special about what this team is doing this postseason. Obviously, that’s clear based simply on the overall success (which included a championship run through the SEC Tournament), but there’s more to it than that. These aren’t fluke wins. This team is just producing at high level all of a sudden. While there are some potential problems (too much reliance on two or three hitters), the team is on fire at the moment and keeps coming through with great plays. I wrote last week about how much of a team effort this was, and that statement rings true for this regional championship as well.
Kaitlin Lee was fantastic again
Lee threw three complete games, occurring on three straight days. She was exceptional, allowing just 12 hits through the entire regional. She also tied the single-season wins record (held by last year’s starter Madi Osias) and the single-season complete game record.
She had a big stage with lots of eyes watching her and a chance to excite the Ole Miss fanbase with a sport it has very recently started paying attention to. She delivered. This wasn’t some “we’re little old Ole Miss, so we’ll probably lose” type of mentality. That’s not what this team has. They’re confident and energetic, and a lot of that stems from Lee. Pitching coach Taryne Mowatt said as much after the second inning of the UNC game, and Lee said in the postgame that those words stuck with her.
Elantra Cox, Kylan Becker, and Miranda Strother were dominant at the plate
Elantra Cox went 8-for-9 on the weekend. Let that sink in. She also had a walk, good for an OBP of .900. Having Cox getting on base as the leadoff over and over again put tons of pressure on teams early and clearly flustered some of the pitchers she was facing.
Kylan Becker was 5-for-10 with two triples and an inside-the-park home run. She had 5 RBIs against SIU alone. Becker, just a sophomore, has really become an elite player all-around, gunning players down from right field and providing some power as a slapper.
Senior Miranda Strother, was 5-for-9 on the weekend and had one incredible throw down from center field to take away a double in the 7th inning against ASU. Strother is playing like someone who knows this is her last shot. She’s cool and collected as a senior should be.
The rest of the team hit just .208
I just don’t think that can continue against UCLA. The Rebels have to get more production from the rest of the lineup. There aren’t glaring problems on an individual level, and there is ample clutch hitting. Still, it’s a cause for concern in an otherwise rosy picture.