KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the second time in as many games, the Ole Miss softball team took a lead on the road at No. 8 Tennessee, but couldn’t fight off the Lady Vols’ late rally. The Rebels scored three runs in the fifth inning Saturday afternoon to take a 3-0 lead, but ultimately fell 5-3 in Knoxville, Tenn.
“We came out loose again and I’m really proud of the way they came out focused, ready to win and wanting to swing,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. “It was a good pitching duel between Ellen Renfroe and Carly Hummel. We got a lead, but it was just a big fifth inning for both of us. We fought hard. I liked our fight in our team, we just have to finish the job.”
Hummel, a senior from Bakersfield, Calif., threw a strong game for the Rebels, including holding Tennessee (41-9, 16-7 Southeastern Conference) to just one hit and no runs in the game’s first four frames.
“It was great to see her have everything working,” Thees said. “All of her pitches were hitting the spots she wanted to hit. She mixed in her speeds and just did a really great job. It was probably one of the best performances I’ve seen her have this year.”
Offensively, Ole Miss (22-30, 3-20 SEC) was led by senior RT Cantillo, who went 2-3 with a home run, two RBIs and a run.
The Rebels threatened in the top of the third. With runners on the corners and one out away, sophomore Haley Culley hit a grounder to third base in which the Lady Vols threw to first base to get Culley out. When they did, junior Jamie Morgan, who was on third base, broke for home but was called out on a close play at the plate as Tennessee completed the 5-3-2 double play.
Ole Miss got on the board in the top of the fifth with three runs on two hits to claim a 3-0 lead. With freshman Courtney Syrett on third base and two outs away, freshman Miranda Strother hit an RBI triple off the top of the wall in center field on the 10th pitch of her at bat. Cantillo followed Strother with a two-run home run to left field. It was the second triple of the year for Strother, and it was Cantillo’s third home run of the season.
Tennessee came back in the bottom half of the inning with a lead-off triple followed by an RBI single to left field to cut the Rebels’ lead to 3-1. Four batters later, with two outs away and two runners on base, the Lady Vols tied the game with a bases clearing double off the wall in left field.
The Lady Vols took the lead the next inning on what proved to be the game-winning two-run home run to left field by Cheyanne Tarango.
The Rebels and Lady Vols’ three-game series concludes Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. CT. The series finale will be carried by Fox Sports Net and WatchESPN.com. Dave Baker and Cheri Kempf will be on the call.
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