Ole Miss softball is on a roll, having won 13 of their last 16 games and 10 of their last 13 against ranked opponents. They entered the top ten last week and are likely to stay there this week (the polls haven’t been released at the time this is being written).
The Rebels were due for a letdown this weekend, having drawn good press and earned their lofty ranking. Plus the Cup wrote about them, which we all know is the biggest jinx in the sports world today. That letdown didn’t come though, as Ole Miss dominated a double header Saturday to take the series.
This weekend played out unpredictably though, given how this team has won games so far this year, coupled with what was expected coming into the season. The Rebels took the Florida series a week ago thanks to strong pitching from Molly Jacobsen and an offense that, while stifled, produced when it needed to do so. At times, that has seemed like the recipe for success in Oxford this year, but the Kentucky series was pretty different.
Molly Jacobsen didn’t pitch well Friday, spelling doom for the Rebs.
Typically, Jacobsen is uncanny at getting ahead in counts and keeping runners off base. Her ERA is 1.79 on the season, and teams are hitting just .216 against her. She has walked just 22 batters this season and struck out 107.
But, Jacobsen only lasted two innings Friday and allowed six earned runs. The Rebels never really stood a chance after that and dropped the first game 11-4. I won’t pretend to know enough about softball (or baseball) to really know what was wrong, but she was not hitting her spots, and Kentucky was belting the ball.
In her second appearance, she pitched much better, allowing two runs through six innings. There’s no reason to think Friday night was anything more than a weird outing that got away from her quickly. Still, it’s pretty remarkable that the team was able to take such a pivotal series without her throwing her best stuff all weekend.
The hits kept coming.
The Rebels managed 8, 12, and 11 hits throughout the three games on the weekend. Through seven inning games, that’s enough to win a lot of games. Kylan Becker was her superhero self all weekend, going 5-of-13 at the plate, but Jessica Puk did a lot too (4-of-10) while Abbey Latham knocked Becker in twice. The Rebels hit four home runs on the weekend , bringing their dinger total to just one less than all of last season (with 16 regular season games remaining!).
The team has really developed some depth with players all down the roster contributing. The team is hitting .290, and there’s only one everyday player hitting under .200 (something Mike Smith’s teams have been unfortunately known for traditionally).
When the Rebels face Missouri this weekend, they’ll be the favorites, and they should be. They’ve consistently stepped up in big games and haven’t shied away from tough moments. A few years ago, the Rebels got on a hot streak that was a mixture of passion and luck. This team, however, is winning because it’s just really good at softball.