Junior Allison Brown was named second team All-Region last season at third base.
Jan. 29, 2014
This is part three of a five-part series previewing the 2014 Ole Miss softball season. Part three focuses on the Rebels’ infield. Part two looked at the Ole Miss pitching staff, while part one was on the Ole Miss coaches and schedule.
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss brings back a lot of talent this season, but perhaps nowhere else on the field is that more apparent than in the infield.
After accumulating the fifth-best fielding percentage in the country last season, and the best in program history (.973), Ole Miss enters 2014 with high expectations placed on its defense, which it welcomes.
“We want our defense to be super strong,” Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. “We were ranked nationally last year in defense. This year we will be even better after we had freshmen in the middle of our infield last year. They’re now sophomores. They’ve seen it all and they’ve gotten better, improved their range, have better hands and they better understand positioning after one year of Division I. It was so nice this fall to practice without all new people. I love it all the way around the horn. I feel we have kids with some really superb hands and defensive skills. That is going to be needed and I’m excited to have that back.”
Ole Miss returns all five of its starting infielders from a year ago, including third baseman Allison Brown, a second team All-Region selection in 2013 – the fourth in program history. Brown, though not the most vocal player on the team, was voted by her teammates as one of three captains due to her leadership by example.
“I think she should have been first team all-region last year, and I know she was second team, but I expect her to be first team this year,” Thees said. “I think she’s going to have a breakout year. She’s such a committed kid to academics and athletics. She’s a joy to coach and someone every coach wants on her team.”
Sophomore Natalie Martinez and freshman Courtney Syrett will battle for time at catcher, while redshirt-freshman Alyssa Invergo will compete for the job at second base this season. Junior college transfer Jamie Morgan will provide depth at third base and will also compete for time in the outfield.
As the entire coaching staff enters year three at Ole Miss, the level of comfort is at an all-time high. After coaching a new team in year one, Ole Miss had many new faces in year two, especially in the infield where the Rebels started a freshman shortstop and a freshman second baseman for the majority of the season. Now, with a consistency level present in the program, Thees said the coaches and players know what to expect.
“We’ve played everybody in the conference now,” Thees said. “We know what every team has. Year three is a lot more comfortable and we can just focus on the game instead of necessarily learning a system and how we want things done. That part is kind of over and now we have to perfect it, work on it and improve on it, but we don’t have to learn everything from scratch.”
The Ole Miss infield also knows what to expect from each other, as everyone in the infield has played together for at least one season, and thus has a better understanding of each other’s tendencies.
“Every practice our kids get better and better and they see their teammates make better plays or range out,” Thees said. “The more you work together as an infield unit or as a center fielder with the middle infielders going out, it’s so huge for them to trust each other defensively – and even offensively knowing, ‘Hey, all the pressure is not on me. I have eight other people in this lineup who can get it done.’ It makes everybody a better hitter when you don’t feel like there’s only one or two hitters on your team. I feel that is where we are right now. We have a team full of exceptional players. They need to work hard and continue to improve, but there’s also that trust amongst each other that will help us this year.”
The student were off for the first week of winter break, but Observations from the Best Seat in the House press on, as the football teams moves closer to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the men's and women's basketball teams... read more
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace, like his head coach, stepped into a program that had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14 straight games. Three years later, Wallace helped lead the ninth-ranked Rebels to their first nine-win regular... read more
Official welcome to Chad Kelly, the No. 1 JUCO QB in the country from national champion East Mississippi CC. #HottyToddy-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 17, 2014 Just Sent My LOI In To The University Of Mississippi!!! Feel's Good To... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 8-14, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded with a 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. The win was the first after back-to-back losses for the Rebels for the first time... read more
Ole Miss Details Stadium Expansion Plans Ole Miss unveiled the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes two phases of renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, the expansion will bring the seating capacity... read more
With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 1-7, 2014Football- No. 9 Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will face No. 6 TCU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta's Georgia Dime.- Ole Miss is making... read more
While the Rebels have enjoyed a solid fall on the fields and courts and look forward to the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and more basketball games, all student-athletes are busy this week proving they are champions in the classroom... read more
In the early part of the week, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract. In the late part of the week, the Rebels learned their postseason bowl destination. Here are... read more
Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic. "We... read more
Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract, they both announced on Twitter early Tuesday morning. Terms will be released as they are finalized and are expected in the coming days.... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Nov. 24-30, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss won the annual "Egg Bowl" rivalry 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State in front of another sold-out crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.- The Rebels finish the... read more