Softball Season Preview: Outfield

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Junior centerfielder RT Cantillo will anchor the Rebels' outfield in 2013.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Junior centerfielder RT Cantillo will anchor the Rebels' outfield in 2013.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Feb. 1, 2013

This is the final part of a four-part series previewing the 2013 Ole Miss softball season. Part four focuses on the Rebels' outfield. Part one on the coaches and schedule can be seen here, and part two on the Rebels' pitching staff can be read here. Part three, which featured the Rebels' infield, can be seen here.

OXFORD, Miss. - Ole Miss doesn't have the depth in its outfield that it does in the infield, but does have kids who can play out there more, Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. Returning to the Rebels outfield is senior Brittany Broome and junior RT Cantillo, who was named Preseason All-SEC on Tuesday.

Broome, who has started in left field for each of the past two seasons, was third on the team in batting average last season (.291), while recording 30 runs, the second most on the team, and 37 hits.

"We've got Brittany Broome in left field and she was there for us almost all of last year," Thees said. "She's so fast. She can get to a lot of balls and she has a really quick release and strong arm."

In center field, the Rebels will look to Cantillo, who was a star last season until breaking her hand with 12 games remaining on the schedule, including eight conference matchups. Despite the missed games, Cantillo still scored a team-high 33 runs, had 37 hits, 26 RBI and a team-best .374 batting average.

"RT has really kind of come full circle, and this is the year she really wants to make her statement as an athlete and as a player," Thees said. "The kid hit .374 last year and had a great year, and if it wasn't for breaking her hand, who knows what kind of accolades she could have gotten because she didn't reach the minimum requirements for a lot of them. She's definitely motivated and getting after it. She realizes she needs to lead some of the younger ones too with so many younger players, and that's a new role for her. I think you're going to see RT have her best year yet."

In right field, junior Natalie Nimmo, who played in the infield last year, and freshman Bri Payne will battle for the starting job. Both players bring a lot of power to the plate, which is always an exciting prospect for a coach. Ole Miss also will have the option of moving other players to the outfield if it becomes necessary, as freshmen Melina Preciado and Natalie Martinez provide the versatility to be able to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield.

"Natalie and Bri both have such big bats. They just have power, they can drive the ball and it explodes off their bats," Thees said. "We'll probably keep rotating them out there until someone wins it. We also have Melina Preciado, she's kind of our jack of all trades. She can play any infield position, and any outfield position for us. Then you have Natalie Martinez, who can play a corner outfield position for us if we need her to."

The Rebels open the season with a doubleheader Feb. 7 in Honolulu against Saint Mary's and Hawaii as a part of the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic. The Rebels will face Saint Mary's at 5 p.m. CT and tournament-host Hawaii at 10 p.m. CT.

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.

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