OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss softball bats started hot and stayed hot throughout the game Friday, as the Rebels (18-13, 2-5 Southeastern Conference) hit four home runs and defeated Arkansas (21-9, 1-3 SEC) 11-4 at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. Ten of the Rebels’ 11 runs in the game came with two outs away.
“Arkansas had a pretty good game plan coming in against Carly (Hummel) with what they were trying to do, but she really had some good stuff working today,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. “It wasn’t her best, but she threw well. They are absolutely a mash-hitting team. We did a good job of keeping some ground balls and made some great plays in the outfield. Offensively, when we got people on base, we were hungry to hit and we were excited to hit.”
After the game, Thees pointed to the Rebels’ ability to rally with two outs away in the first, third and fifth innings as a key to the victory.
“That’s something we struggled with at the beginning of the season,” said Thees about scoring with two outs on the board. “It started to come around, but man, if we can keep doing this for the rest of the year, watch out. That was fun to coach and it was exactly what we want our hitters to do.”
Each of the Rebels’ first four batters in the lineup hit home runs Friday night. Junior third baseman Allison Brown hit a solo home run in the first inning, senior outfielder RT Cantillo hit a three-run home run to left-center field in the third inning, sophomore shortstop Haley Culley hit a two-run home run to right field in the fifth inning, and senior first baseman Londen Ladner closed out the scoring with a solo shot to center in the sixth.
“Our top four all got home runs and that was great,” Thees said. “We know they all have home run power, but everybody else doesn’t know that. When you have RT come back and hit another home run in just her second game back from injury, then Haley Culley popping a home run and Allison Brown starting the game off with a home run for us. That was such a great swing. Then Londen was ready to join the party at the end and she did. She’s been swinging it really well.”
Senior pitcher Carly Hummel (8-5) went the distance for the Rebels to record her sixth complete game of the year, striking out three in the process.
The win Friday night marked the 400th victory in Thees’ career.
“It has been a fun ride,” Thees said. “I enjoy this game. I absolutely love it. I love the players, they’re just like my kids. They will do the wrong things sometimes, and you’re frustrated and you have to make them run or punish them, but you love them.”
Arkansas threatened in the top of the first inning by putting two on with no outs, but the Rebels fought back and got out of the jam with no harm done. Hummel started things off by making a nice pick on a sharply hit ground ball back to the circle for the first out, and Brown then ended the inning one batter later by fielding a grounder, tagging third base and tossing it across the diamond to Ladner to complete the double play.
After Brown’s solo shot in the first, Ole Miss hit back-to-back singles, followed by a two-RBI single to right-center field by redshirt-freshman second baseman Alyssa Invergo. Freshman left fielder Miranda Strother closed out the scoring in the inning with an RBI single through the right side.
After Arkansas scored three runs to pull within one in the top of the third, Ole Miss responded in the bottom half of the inning with another two-out rally where it plated four runs on four hits, highlighted by Cantillo’s three-run home run. It’s the second straight game in which Cantillo has hit a home run.
In the fifth inning, Culley hit her first round-tripper of the year, a two-run shot to right field to put Ole Miss up 10-3. It was the second home run of the Mesa, Ariz., native’s career.
Following a solo home run by Arkansas in the top of the sixth, Ladner led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run of her own that hit the top of the wall in center field before going over.
On Saturday, the Ole Miss Softball Complex will host its second Crawfish Saturday of the year, with 100 pounds of crawfish available for fans in the outfield free of charge. Sunday will be Sundae Sunday at the park, where fans can get free ice cream sundaes while supplies last.
For all Ole Miss softball news and information, including live stats and recaps after each game of the three-game series, go to OleMissSports.com and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissSoftball and on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball.
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