OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss softball team outhit No. 11 Kentucky on Friday evening at the Ole Miss Softball Complex and put the tying run in scoring position in the seventh inning, but could not close out the rally and dropped the series opener 3-1.
"I feel like it was a really well-played game by both teams," Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. "We made a hustle play and the ball got away and the kid who dove for the ball threw it in and it got into the dugout for that one run. Other than that, we pitched well, we made some good contact, we were just missing pitches. You're playing the 11th-ranked team in the nation and you're right there. We gave ourselves a chance to win it with the bases loaded, we have our No. 3 hitter up. It was exactly what we want. We were right there."
After falling behind 3-0 after four innings of play, Ole Miss (20-20, 3-10 Southeastern Conference) shut down the Wildcats (34-8, 8-5 SEC) for the final three frames to give itself a chance in the seventh inning.
In the seventh, Ole Miss loaded the bases with just one out away to bring the winning run up to bat. After a fielder's choice to the UK shortstop who threw home for the inning's second out and to preserve the shutout, sophomore shortstop Haley Culley hit an infield single to put the winning run on first base and the tying run in scoring position. The Rebels couldn't get another hit though and dropped the game 3-1.
Six different Rebels recorded hits Friday night, and eight different Rebels reached base as Ole Miss outhit UK 6-3. Ole Miss got solid production in the circle from senior pitchers Carly Hummel (5.0 innings pitched) and Shelby Jo Fenter (2.0 innings pitched), who combined for six strikeouts, one walk and just three hits.
Kentucky got on the board in the top of the second with a two-run home run to left-center field by left fielder Maisie Steed.
The Wildcats then took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning on a throwing error that allowed right fielder Emily Gaines to come home from third base.
"We need to stay through the ball a little bit better," said Thees looking ahead to Saturday's game. "She's a good drop ball pitcher so we pounded the ball into the ground a little bit. If we get through it a little bit more we're going to hit line drives into the gaps."
There will be free hair ribbons for fans Saturday and sweatbands Sunday at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. Ole Miss will be hosting Crawfish Saturday for game two of the series, with 100 pounds of crawfish available for fans in the outfield free of charge. Saturday is also OPC Day, as Ole Miss softball players and coaches will host a clinic for kids in attendance following the conclusion of the game. Sunday will be Sundae Sunday at the park, where fans can get free ice cream sundaes while supplies last.
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