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Autumn Gillespie to use eligibility relief, will return to Ole Miss softball

Guess who got its catcher back?

Ole Miss softball is returning one of its most important pieces for the 2021 season, as catcher Autumn Gillespie has decided to exercise her eligibility relief and return to the team. Gillespie had her senior year cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will take advantage of an extra year offered by the NCAA in response to the virus and its fallout.

The 6-foot-1 catcher from Redlands, Calif. was a key component in the Rebels’ success over the past three seasons both at and behind the plate. Before the 2020 season came to a halt, Gillespie was putting up ridiculous numbers through just 25 games. She recorded a .349 batting average, .651 slugging percentage, .512 on-base percentage, and scored 21 runs and 13 RBIs with five home runs and nine stolen bases.

To say that she was on a tear is an understatement. Goodbye ball.

After spending two seasons at UCF, Gillespie transferred to Ole Miss in 2018 and made 53 starts behind the plate. She knocked in a team-high 30 runs and scored a team-leading 20 runs as an immediate impact player in her first year, and topped those numbers with 59 starts the following season.

Though her big bat is a welcomed return to the lineup, what sets Gillespie apart is her cannon. She led the Southeastern Conference in 2019 and hosed 13 base runners.

It’s not like it’s close either, she makes them look silly.

As first-year head coach Jamie Trachsel tries to get the Rebels back to their winning ways, returning a rocket-armed senior leader that mashes at the plate is certainly a great start.