OXFORD, Miss. - In a game Rebel Nation won't soon forget, the Ole Miss softball team (6-8) showed its grit, determination and fight in a thrilling come-from-behind 9-8 victory over McNeese State on Friday night at the Red & Blue Classic.
With two outs on the board at the Ole Miss Softball Complex and the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, Lauren Lindsey hit a walk-off RBI single through the right side to give the Rebels the dramatic victory that saw them fight off a five-run deficit entering the bottom of the do-or-die inning.
"I'm really proud," Ole Miss softball head coach Windy Thees said. "I think Lu (Lauren Lindsey) has done such a phenomenal job. All she has needed is at-bats and the more at-bats she gets the better she gets. I'm so happy for her because I know she wanted this moment.
"There's never been a doubt to me one, how talented our team is, and two, how much they want to win," Thees said. "It's just about figuring out how to win. ... We're still figuring it out, but hopefully this win right here will catapult us to tomorrow and the next day."
After tying the game in the bottom of the seventh, Ole Miss loaded the bases but couldn't end the game in regulation and the two teams went to the eighth.
The Cowgirls (9-6) plated five runs in the top of the eighth, but the Rebels showed their resolve in the bottom of the inning by matching the Cowgirls run for run and never showing an ounce of quit.
"There was no let down; there were no thoughts in the dugout that we weren't going to keep going up to bat," Thees said. "Everybody had their helmets on (in the dugout) that was even in the lineup and they were ready to go up to bat and get a hit."
Lindsey, who entered the game with a hit in each of her last five at-bats, seized her opportunity in the clutch situation.
"You always say, `Do what you can with the opportunity you're given.' I was given an opportunity, so I had to take it," Lindsey said.
The Rebels dug themselves into a hole early in the game as McNeese State got on the board in the second inning with a solo home run to center field. The Cowgirls then stretched the lead to 3-0 with a two-run home run to left-center.
Thees then turned to senior pitcher Erinn Jayjohn, who threw a complete game shutout Wednesday night in a victory over Southern Miss, and the captain delivered by taking Ole Miss the rest of the way and earning her second victory in as many games.
"We've kind of been trying to figure out who we are still," Jayjohn said. "Being able to come out of an 8-3 hole like that is huge, especially for us right now."
One inning later, the Rebels tacked another run on the board when sophomore third baseman Allison Brown hit a line drive at the pitcher. With no other play, Cowgirls pitcher Jamie Allred threw Brown out at first and freshman shortstop Halley Culley came home.
Brown tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single up the middle that scored Culley from second. The Rebels again loaded the bases later in the inning but could not drive any more home and the game went to extra innings.
After allowing five runs in the top of the eighth, Ole Miss regrouped in the bottom half of the inning with its back against the wall. With the international tie rule in effect due to tournament play, Marina Parra began the inning on second base. Bri Payne was hit by a pitch and Kelly Nolan hit a single to load the bases. Culley then earned an RBI walk to score Parra and cut the lead to four.
"Bri getting hit by that first pitch was huge for us," Thees said. "It was just like, boom, we have two runners on, now we got three, now all of a sudden we're just pecking away and pecking away."
An RBI by Cantillo on a fielder's choice cut the deficit further, and a wild pitch later in the inning scored Nolan from third base to make it a two-run game. Freshman Madi Osias reached on a fielding error and advanced to second base, scoring two runs to tie the game.
Lindsey put the final touch on the incredible rally with a two-out single through the right side that scored Osias from second base and gave Ole Miss the 9-8 victory. It was the first extra-inning game Ole Miss has played this year, and it was the Rebels' first victory of the season when trailing after six innings.
Lindsey finished 3-5 with three singles and an RBI. Culley was 3-3 at the plate with three singles, two runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Jayjohn threw 5.1 innings, striking out two and picking up the victory.
Ole Miss will play two games Saturday, day two of the Red & Blue Classic. The Rebels will open with UT-Martin at 1:30 p.m. CT, and finish with Drake at 3:45 p.m. CT.
For all Ole Miss softball news and information, including live stats and a recap of each of Ole Miss' games at the Red & Blue Classic, go to OleMissSports.com. For live stats and box scores of each of the games at the Red & Blue Classic, visit the tournament central page. Follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissSoftball and on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball.
After Raven Saunders won her third NCAA shot put title and broke a 33-year-old collegiate record yesterday, she was due for some headlines in the track & field world. Her outgoing personality and flashy demeanor in front of the huge... read more
By Tate Hawkins, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations Student Assistant The 2016 season has been a big one for the Rebels. The 40-16 regular season record was the fourth 40-win regular season in program history. The Rebels went 18-12... read more
By Steven Oubre, Ole Miss Athletics Media RelationsThis weekend, the School of Pharmacy at the University of Mississippi will name former Rebel football player Todd Sandroni their 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award. From 1987-1990, Todd Sandroni stalked the football field... read more
By Tate Hawkins, Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations In case you missed it, or you've been focused on the winter sports, Ole Miss Baseball is already five weeks into the 2016 season. After an 8-2 win over UT Martin on... read more
By Tate Hawkins, Student Assistant, Ole Miss Athletics Media RelationsYou've seen it all over athletics and campus. From jerseys, hats, helmets, and even to T-shirts that get tossed into the crowd. Fans have clung to this over the past... read more
Who doesn't enjoy seeing their favorite Rebels suit up on Sundays and represent Ole Miss in the National Football League?Well, there are about to be a few more NFL Rebels to watch on TV this fall.The Path to the Draft... read more
With the 2016 Ole Miss Baseball season beginning today at Swayze Field (4 p.m. CT vs. FIU), check out the always much-anticipated walk out music list. Which song is your favorite?#1 DJ Miller: "Go DJ" by Lil Wayne#2 Ryan Olenek:... read more
The Southeastern Conference today announced Kickoff '16, its annual football media days, will be held July 11-14 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham - Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and selected players (TBA) will visit... read more
Last week, I wrote this story about the 64 school records and numerous program firsts that Hugh Freeze's Ole Miss football team accomplished in 2015.Today let's take a closer look at where the Rebels' season stacked up in the national... read more
Ole Miss Football is one of five programs in the nation to make back-to-back New Year's Six bowl games and will play in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 2016) for the first time since 1970. The Rebels are the... read more