For the first time ever, the Ole Miss softball team is ranked in both preseason polls. After a fantastic campaign that saw the Rebs go 43-20, win the Southeastern Conference Tournament, and make it to the NCAA Super Regionals against the UCLA Bruins, the Ladydiamondsharks have been rewarded.
On Tuesday, the USA Today/NFCA Coaches and ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason polls were released. And the Ole Miss Rebels were ranked were ranked 16th in the former and 15th in the latter. The defending national champs, Oklahoma, was almost a unanimous choice at No. 1 and the SEC has nine of the top 25 teams.
The program is reaching new heights under fourth-year head coach Mike Smith. In three seasons, his squads have tied the school wins record, then broken it, then reset it a year later in 2017. Ole Miss only had two, TWO, winning seasons in 18 years prior to Smith’s hiring. Now they have two NCAA Tournament appearances, the 2017 SEC Tournament Title, and 114 total wins.
This season will be interesting with Smith returning a great deal of last year’s squad, a fantastic recruiting class, and renewed energy surrounding the program. Despite losing Taryne Mowatt and being picked 7th in the SEC in the preseason, there is still momentum from last year’s magical run.
The Rebels have already begun preseason practice in preparation for the start of the 2018 season. It all starts February 9-11 at the Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Alabama.