FORT MYERS, Fla. - After weeks and months of preparation, the 2014 season has finally arrived for the Ole Miss softball team. The Rebels will head south to Fort Myers, Fla., to the home of Florida Gulf Coast University to compete in the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Invitational.
Ole Miss begins play at the tournament Friday against Western Kentucky at 1:30 p.m. CT. The Hilltoppers won the Sun Belt Conference regular season championship last season after going 20-3 in league play. WKU enters the 2014 season receiving votes in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Coaches top 25 and the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball top 25. The Rebels will then turn around and play host school Florida Gulf Coast at 3:45 p.m. CT.
"We want to get off to a fast start," Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. "We've been swinging the bat a lot because of this horrible weather, so we've gotten a lot of extra cuts in the cages. We've been able to have a lot of at-bats and swings, so we want to make sure we're scoring a lot of runs this weekend.
"Our pitchers have done a really good job of developing all of their pitches and all of their pitches at different speeds. The speed differential is what I'm really focusing on this year to take us to the next level as a pitching staff and hopefully bring that ERA down so that if we score four runs we're going to win no matter what."
On Saturday, Ole Miss will face Georgetown at 9:00 a.m. CT, followed by a matchup against Liberty at 1:30 p.m. CT that same day. The Rebels will close out play in the tournament on Sunday with the opponent and time of game dependent on performance in the tournament.
The Rebels return eight of nine starters from a year ago, including four of five pitchers and 13 of 16 letterwinners. Ole Miss will be looking to build on its fantastic defense from a year ago where it set a program record with a .979 mark, which ranked fifth nationally.
With the season finally here, Thees said it's a funny balance of wishing the season would finally arrive, and then realizing it actually is here.
"The preseason is like, `Oh man, this is going on and on,' and now that the season is here you're like, `Wait, did we put this in, did we do this, did we do that?' " said Thees, who is beginning her third season at Ole Miss. "We've gone over our first and third plays, our bunt and slap defense, we've gone over cuts, but then in your head you're like, `Did we go over it enough?' A few weeks ago you're like, `Man, can we get the season here?'
"As a coach, the season is great because your players are playing, but your opportunities to teach kind of shrink down. Now you're just making minor adjustments throughout the season," Thees said. "Now it's more about strategizing, preparing for games and teams. It's a different type of coaching, whereas before it's actually teaching the game and instructing the players. This is game time, x's and o's, putting the right people in and making the right substitutions."
Ole Miss got off to the second best start in program history through 25 games last season when it began 16-9. The Rebels will look to top that mark this season and continue to re-write the record books under Thees' tutelage.
Ole Miss meets Mississippi State on the hardwood the for 250th time Wednesday, which makes it the most-played rivalry in the Southeastern Conference. Like the rivalry in football, where the road team last won in 2010, the home team has... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 20-26, 2015Men's Basketball - Senior guard Jarvis Summers scored 4 points in the final 26.6 seconds to lift Ole Miss to a 72-71 victory over Florida Saturday. Summers scored a team-high 16 points, including... read more
Classes started on the Ole Miss campus this past week, as the men's and women's basketball teams enter the heart of Southeastern Conference play. Some of the spring sports have started their 2015 seasons, while others are gearing up for... read more
Former Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt capped an impressive week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, with a game-high five tackles in the game itself Saturday. His former teammate, cornerback Senquez Golson sat out the game with a hamstring... read more
Ole Miss closes out a three-game stretch in which they will have faced three consecutive ranked opponents when they welcome No. 18 Mississippi State on Thursday night. The Rebels are 1-1 through the first two games of the stretch, having... read more
Photo GalleryCody Prewitt and Senquez Golson will represent Ole Miss in the Senior Bowl, which will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. CT from Mobile, Alabama, and will be televised by the NFL Network. The duo have already had a busy... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 13-19, 2015Men's Basketball - Ole Miss thrashed No. 19 Arkansas 96-82 on Saturday. The Rebels picked up their first true road win over a ranked opponent since 2003 and scored the second-most points ever... read more
The Ole Miss men's and women's basketball teams both made some history, while the men's and women's tennis teams started their spring seasons. National Signing Day (Feb. 4) and the start of baseball season (Feb. 13) are less than a... read more
After an up-and-down non-conference slate that included wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, all away from home, and losses to Charleston Southern and Western Kentucky, both at home, Ole Miss learned a lot about itself in the first week of... read more
Ole Miss football finished the 2014 football season with a 9-4 record and a top-20 final national rankings in both polls. The Rebels come in at No. 17 in the Associated Press poll and No. 19 in the Amway Coach... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewJan. 6-12, 2015Women's Basketball - Ole Miss went 2-0 on the week with a road win at Florida and a win at home against Alabama, moving to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in SEC action while... read more
The Ole Miss men's basketball team opened SEC play, while the Ole Miss women's basketball team continued SEC play, as we enter the heart of college basketball season. Over the weekend, the men's and women's teams posted wire-to-wire wins on... read more
Ole Miss looks to reverse history, as the Rebels (9-4) travel to No. 1 Kentucky tonight (6 p.m., SEC Network), the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Ole Miss is 0-15 all-time against the nation's top ranked team, last playing... read more