Jan. 28, 2014
This is part two of a five-part series previewing the 2014 Ole Miss softball season. Part two focuses on the Rebels’ pitching staff, while part one was on the Ole Miss coaches and schedule.
OXFORD, Miss. – As is the case with the start of every new season, excitement is brimming. One of the many causes for excitement at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in 2014 is the Rebels’ pitching staff, which includes an intriguing blend of youth and experience.
Seniors Carly Hummel and Shelby Jo Fenter each return for their second years in the Southeastern Conference after transferring to Ole Miss from Memphis and Vol State Community College, respectively. Hummel led the Rebels with 147 innings pitched in 2013, while Fenter was second on the team with 82 innings.
“This year has been really great because we have kids who have pitched at the highest level and we have some really talented youth,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said.
Sophomore Madi Osias and junior Lauren Lindsey were fourth and fifth on the team last season in innings pitched, and both also boast SEC experience.
Coming into the 2014 season is redshirt-freshman Emily Gaitan and true freshman Emily Boyd, who each had strong showings in the fall.
As opposed to last season when she could not pitch in the fall due to a hand injury, Hummel was able to go all fall this season and is the Rebels’ most experienced pitcher.
“Having that experience of playing in the SEC and being healthy in the fall is great,” said Thees, who coached Hummel for two years at Memphis prior to her transfer to Ole Miss. “We’re excited for her to have a tremendous senior year.”
Fenter enters 2014 as Ole Miss’ second-most experienced pitcher after making 15 starts as a junior and striking out 80 batters. Thees said to pitch at the Division I level for the first time and face SEC competition was an eye-opening experience for the West Memphis, Ark., native.
“One thing about Shelby Jo is she’s such a hard worker,” Thees said. “She and Carly have really done a good job of having their work ethic show the younger ones what they need to do, and they have set the bar pretty high.”
Osias enters her sophomore year coming off a very promising freshman campaign. The Tustin, Calif., native was third on the team in innings pitched in conference play, and tied for second in strikeouts vs. SEC opponents. She then carried over her hard work from her rookie season into the fall where she again impressed the Rebel coaches.
“As the year went on last season she got more and more experience and more and more opportunities, and going into her sophomore year that’s going to help,” Thees said. “She had a tremendous fall – the best fall of anyone on our staff, really.”
Lindsey, a junior from Decatur, Ala., made seven appearances in the circle last season, including six appearances in conference games. The southpaw has worked hard throughout the offseason and Thees said that hard work will pay off for her this season in the form of more opportunities.
“She’s making me a believer with how hard she worked this fall and how well she did when we gave her opportunities,” Thees said. “She got outs and you can’t look at stats and not see that. That’s saying something. She will get her opportunities to get outs in the spring as well.”
Gaitan and Boyd are the Rebels’ two freshmen pitchers in 2014. Gaitan, an early enrollee in 2013 who traveled and practiced with the team throughout the year while redshirting, enters her rookie year with a lot of knowledge about the SEC and playing collegiately despite never having made an appearance.
“She’s a freshman, but not really,” said Thees of Gaitan. “She has amazing stuff and it’s going to be fun to see her develop.”
Boyd comes to Oxford with impressive high school credentials and has made it known to Thees that despite being just a freshman, she wants to make a mark in 2014.
“She came into my office at the end of the fall this year and said, ‘I want to contribute this year, Coach. I know we have a plan, but I’m going to be ready to get on the mound this year and help our team win,’ ” Thees said. “That was one of my favorite end-of-the-fall meetings. That’s what you want to hear out of your freshmen.”
For all Ole Miss softball news and information, go to OleMissSports.com and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissSoftball and on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball.
Ole Miss Softball Promo 2014 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.