OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss softball team (2-5) got a strong opening five innings of work from junior pitcher Shelby Jo Fenter on Wednesday, but a six-run sixth allowed No. 10 LSU to notch a 9-1 win at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.
The game - which was played as a non-conference matchup because the two teams don't meet in the Southeastern Conference regular season and wanted to continue the rivalry - was a two-run affair until the sixth inning. Leading 3-1, LSU (5-1) used three- and two-run home runs in the top of the sixth to break the game open and get the win.
"It was a frustrating game for us because we played really well early on, all the way to the fifth," Ole Miss softball head coach Windy Thees said. "We have to keep the ball in the ball park. We missed on a couple pitches, and with a top-10 ranked team if you miss on a pitch they're going to make you pay. That's the story of the game; we gave up four long balls."
Fenter finished with 5.2 innings of work, striking out five batters and allowing six runs on five hits. At the plate, freshman shortstop Haley Culley had one hit and one run, and junior centerfielder RT Cantillo finished with an RBI double. Junior catcher Marina Parra also had a hit for Ole Miss.
The Rebels created chances, but couldn't always drive home their runs, leaving a pair of runners on base in the each of the fourth and fifth innings. Despite the loss, Thees sees the benefits of playing a top-10 ranked opponent, the fourth opponent for Ole Miss inside the top 25 in the opening seven games, and another All-America caliber pitcher.
"This is what we need to do," Thees said. "They're a World Series team, they return their pitcher and a couple kids from that team who are just solid and helped them get there. That's where we're going. This is where we want to go to. We want to be that team. Our kids need to play the best competition."
The Rebels play again Friday in Mobile, Ala., at the Mardi Gras Invitational against Lamar and Central Arkansas at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. CT, respectively. Ole Miss will face the tournament host, South Alabama, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., and will close out the tournament Sunday against Jackson State at 10 a.m.
For all Ole Miss softball news and information, please go to OleMissSports.com, and follow the Rebels on Twitter @OleMissSoftball and on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball.
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