Games 13-16 Date: March 2-4, 2018 First Pitch: Fri.: 5:30 p.m.; Sat.: 3/5:30 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m. Opponents: Chattanooga, Saint Louis, Southern Miss., UT Martin Location: Oxford, Miss. Venue: Ole Miss Softball Complex Dimensions: LF-200, CF-220, RF-200 Surface: Natural Grass TV: SEC Network + Live Stats:OleMissSports.com Twitter Updates: @OleMissSoftball
After making its home debut last weekend in a two-game set against SIUE, Ole Miss remains home as hosts of the Ole Miss Classic, welcoming UT Martin, Saint Louis, Chattanooga and Southern Miss to Oxford.
This is the third-straight year hosting the Ole Miss Classic for the Rebels, with Ole Miss registering an 8-1 record in the event the last two years.
The Rebels remain in the top-20 in both national polls, being slotted No. 17 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll and No. 18 in the USA Softball Poll.
Ole Miss swept the aforementioned two-game series against SIUE at the Ole Miss Softball Complex last weekend, with Kaitlin Lee garnering the win in both games.
The Rebels have now won each of their last seven games played on their home field.
The win by Lee moves the Gulfport native to 7-0 on the year, the best start for a pitcher for the Rebels since sophomore Morgan Bruce started her freshman year with wins in her first seven decisions.
After going 3-for-5 in the two games against the Cougars, senior outfielder Elantra Cox is batting .615 in her last four ball games, scoring six runs and stealing three bases.
One of the bigger hits over the weekend for the Rebels came in the form of a two-run shot by Autumn Gillespie, the first home run of the UCF-transfer's Rebel career.
UT Martin is led by head coach Donley Canary in his 17th season at the helm of the Skyhawks program. UTM is 6-8 on the year after taking part in the Frost Classic this past weekend, hosted by another Ole Miss Classic competitor in Chattanooga. The Skyhawks went 3-2 during their stay in the Volunteer State, Knocking off Alabama State, Western Illinois and Chattanooga. Senior Jodie Duncan carries the torch for UTM, batting .386 in her 44 at-bats, knocking a pair of doubles, scoring six runs and registering seven RBIs. Outfielder Alicia Hansen isn't far behind Duncan with a .375 average at the dish, while infielder Alli Fulcher leads the team with eight runs scored and has added eight RBIs to her .342 batting average. In the circle, the Skyhawks boast a respectable 2.71 ERA as a staff, led by sophomore Hannah Ridolfi. Ridolfi has posted a 3-3 record with a 1.49 ERA, allowing a .232 average to opposing batters.
The Billikens of Saint Louis are headed by Christy Connoyer, who is in her 10th season at the school. SLU is 3-6 on the year after splitting its games at the Louisiana Tech Invitational, defeating Alcorn State and South Dakota. Freshman catcher Alyssa Chavez swings a hot bat, hitting .417 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Infielder Sadie Wise has cashed in an impressive 10 runs early on in the year, while Allie MacFarlane, Lauren Lomax and Alyssa Tarquinio are tied for the team lead with four RBIs. While Maddie Baalman narrowly outpaces her with 26.2 innings, Kaylea Chapelle boasts an ERA over three runs lower at 1.64, going 1-2 on the year.
In his 17th year in the Scenic City, Chattanooga head coach Frank Reed has been named the SoCon Coach of the Year six times. Reed's Mocs are 7-7 in 2018 after going 3-2 at the Frost Classic with wins over IUPUI, Southeast Missouri State and Evansville. Junior Emma Sturdivant is white hot with a .429 batting average, doing a little bit of everything with a double, triple and home run. Sturdivant is also tied for the team lead with Ashley Conner at 10 RBIs, while Aly Walker has been a pest with 13 runs to go along with a .333 average at the plate. Celie Hudson and Allison Swinford carry the bulk of the load in the circle for UTC. Hudson paces the Mocs with 43.2 innings of work on the rubber, garnering a 3.69 ERA with a 1-for-1 strikeout-to-ball ratio with 21 of each. Swinford isn't too far behind with 31.2 frames, recording a 4.20 ERA, striking out 20 compared to nine free passes.
Wendy Hogue is in her fourth season as head coach of Ole Miss' in-state rival Southern Miss. The Eagles have posted a 6-8 record on the year, coming off of a doubleheader sweep over Alcorn State in Hattiesburg. USM's top three hitters have been nothing short of exceptional. Destini Brown paces Southern Miss with a blistering .519 average and .658 on-base percentage, knocking home six runs and scoring six of her own. Karley Nichols has also been extremely productive at the dish with a .500 average, while Chase Nelson sits at .400. Nelson leads the team with eight RBIs, tallying a pair of doubles. In the circle, three pitchers have seen significant work, spearheaded by Samantha Robles. Robles has thrown 39.1 frames, registering a 2.49 ERA with 18 strikeouts to just six walks. Jillian Johnson and Kim Crowson have each tossed over 20 innings, posting respective ERAs of 3.09 and 4.20.
STARTING OFF STRONG Kaitlin Lee has had about as strong of a start to the 2018 season in the circle as you could ask for, winning each of her first seven decisions. If the righty can garner the victory in her next decision she will become the first Rebel ever to start a season with eight-consecutive wins. Lee's seven wins tie her career high for consecutive victories and are tied for the second-best streak in program history, outpaced only by Madi Osias' 12-straight wins in the circle in 2016.
REBEL PITCHING TOO TOUGH FOR SIUE Facing a more than respectable side in SIUE, a ball club that won more than 40 games in 2017, Ole Miss picked up a pair of quality wins over the Cougars. Playing in front of the Rebel faithful for the first time all year, the Ole Miss pitching staff gave SIUE fits all weekend, allowing just a single run. Kaitlin Lee got things started with a complete-game shutout in the opener of the two-game series, with a first-inning run being all the offense the Rebels needed. Freshman Anna Borgen got the start in the second game and allowed just one run on two hits. After the Cougars tied the game, Lee entered in relief in the fifth and kept the Cougars scoreless. Meanwhile, the Rebel bats finally came alive in a five-run fifth to propel Ole Miss to victory.
REBS ADAPT QUICKLY TO CHANGING SCHEDULE Following the cancellation of this weekend's Red & Blue Classic, Ole Miss adapted quickly, heading to Troy, Alabama on less than 12-hours' notice for a pair of morning games against Murray State and Tennessee Tech as part of the Trojan Classic Friday. The Rebels adjusted well, scoring 16 runs in the two contests for a pair of victories over the Racers and Golden Eagles. Ole Miss didn't remain in the Yellowhammer State for long, turning around immediately following the battle with Tennessee Tech and heading back home to Oxford.
ON DECK Following the Ole Miss Classic, the Rebels will host Boston College on Tuesday, March 6 at the Ole Miss Softball Complex for the final tuneup before jumping into SEC play with a three-game series on the road in College Station against a top-10 Texas A&M program. The game against the Eagles of BC will be broadcasted to a national audience on the SEC Network, the first of at least eight Rebel games that will be available on national television.
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