Season Preview: Outfield

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
RT Cantillo enters her senior year in the top 10 in school history in nine career statistical categories.

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
RT Cantillo enters her senior year in the top 10 in school history in nine career statistical categories.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Jan. 30, 2014

This is part four of a five-part series previewing the 2014 Ole Miss softball season. Part four focuses on the Rebels' outfield. Part three was on the Ole Miss infield, while part two looked at the Ole Miss pitching staff, and part one was on the Rebels' coaches and schedule.

OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss softball team has options in the outfield. Returning two of its three starting outfielders from last season's squad, the Rebels have strong speed and arm strength at every outfield position.

Because of their depth and versatility, head coach Windy Thees has moved multiple players around throughout the fall and spring practices. Thees also likes for the outfielders to have a greater knowledge of each of the positions' intricacies.

"We have options probably for the first time in our three years here of having multiple people at every position out there," Thees said. "If you can learn to play the other positions in the outfield with balls that fade and spin it's great. It's nice to have people who understand the dynamics of each position, and we've worked really hard on all of our outfielders understanding all of the positions."

Senior RT Cantillo enters her final season in the top 10 in school history of nine career statistical categories, including batting average, triples, home runs, runs, walks, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, stolen bases and fielding percentage.

Cantillo, who has started and played in 140 games throughout her career, notched a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage last season, making 104 putouts and five assists without committing an error. After staying healthy throughout the entire year, Thees said she is looking for Cantillo to be herself this year and help lead the outfield unit.

"I want her to make those top-10 plays she makes in the outfield and do what she does best offensively, which is not get a home run every at bat, but instead get on base, get a single, get a double, get a home run and mix it all up. She's so talented. She's easily one of the best outfielders in the country."

Senior Natalie Nimmo and sophomore Bri Payne, who each split time in right field last season, will compete again for time this season. In addition, sophomore Natalie Martinez, who played at catcher last season as a freshman but has outfield experience from high school, has split time at each position this spring. Junior college transfer Jamie Morgan and freshman Miranda Strother will also be competing for time in the outfield in 2014.

"This year we have tremendous arm strength and speed," Thees said. "Our speed has gotten so much better from last year to this year in the outfield, and I look forward to that. The fact we have so many true outfielders out there, instead of perhaps switching some people out there to learn a new position, is great."

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.

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