OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss softball senior pitcher Shelby Jo Fenter threw 6.2 scoreless innings Friday and struck out seven, and the Rebels (7-6) defeated Bowling Green 2-0 in its home opener at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.
Playing on the first day of the annual Red and Blue Classic, Ole Miss engaged in a pitching duel with the visiting Falcons in which both teams had a combined six hits through the opening five innings of play.
"Shelby Jo threw a great game," Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. "She really kept us in it. We made some great defensive plays, we hustled in the outfield and made some good throws. To throw a shutout on defense by our team and by Shelby Jo, and Courtney (Syrett) did a good job catching back there, I was really proud of that.
"We have to make a few more adjustments on offense, but the speed on our team helped us a little bit today in scoring those two runs. We just need to utilize that a little more."
Fenter, who entered Friday evening's game with the 14th best ERA in the Southeastern Conference, lowered her average on the year to 0.95. Her seven strikeouts against Bowling Green is just one shy of her season high of eight, which she has done twice already this season.
"She's a calmer individual," said Thees of Fenter. "Last year, she was so pumped and excited to get into every game, and she let that adrenaline get away from her. Now, she's calmer, she knows what she wants to do and she's more of a surgeon on the mound instead of someone who is trying to power everything by."
Ole Miss faced perhaps its biggest threat in the second inning. Bowling Green loaded the bases in the inning with one out, but Fenter induced an infield popup followed by a strikeout swinging, and the Rebels got out of the jam unscathed.
Ole Miss scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth to take its lead. With two outs away and the bases empty, freshman left fielder Miranda Strother hit a single and later stole second. Freshman catcher Courtney Syrett then reached on an error by the Falcons' second baseman and advanced to third, scoring Strother from second base. Junior right fielder Jamie Morgan closed out the scoring with an RBI single that scored Syrett.
Bowling Green made things interesting in the seventh by putting two runners on base with two outs away. Thees then handed the ball off to sophomore Madi Osias, who got the final out to pop up first base.
On Saturday, the Rebels will play back-to-back games at 1:30 p.m. CT and 3:45 p.m. CT against Buffalo and Northern Colorado, respectively. Ole Miss will close out the tournament Sunday with games against Saint Louis (1:30 p.m.) and UT Martin (3:45 p.m.). The complete tournament schedule can be found at the Red and Blue Classic Tournament Central page.
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