OXFORD, Miss. - After playing six straight games on the road, the Ole Miss softball team finally returns to the friendly confines of the Ole Miss Softball Complex to host No. 11 Kentucky in a three-game series beginning Friday.
The Rebels (20-19, 3-9 Southeastern Conference) and Wildcats (32-8, 7-5 SEC) open play at 6 p.m. CT Friday, followed by game two Saturday at 2 p.m. and the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We haven't played at home since March 23 and that's the last time we played an SEC opponent at home as well, so we're really excited about this weekend, playing in front of our fans again and facing Kentucky," Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees said. "We had a really tight series with UK last year in Lexington. They've pitched really well this season so our bats are going to need to be sharp all three games as they were in our last SEC home series versus Arkansas."
In that series against the Razorbacks, Ole Miss plated 31 runs in the three games combined. The Rebels have won three of their past four games at home, including two games against Arkansas, and a combined no-hitter over Louisiana Tech on March 19.
There will be free tumblers for fans Friday, hair ribbons Saturday and sweatbands Sunday. The Ole Miss Softball Complex will be hosting Crawfish Saturday for game two of the series, with 100 pounds of crawfish available for fans in the outfield free of charge. Saturday is also OPC Day, as Ole Miss softball players and coaches will host a clinic for kids in attendance following the conclusion of the game. Sunday will be Sundae Sunday at the park, where fans can get free ice cream sundaes while supplies last.
On March 31, Ole Miss senior outfielder RT Cantillo was selected by the Chicago Bandits in the fifth round of the National Pro Fastpitch College Draft. At the plate, the Santa Ana, Calif., native has the second highest batting average in the SEC (.486) and the third best on-base percentage (.559) in the league. She also leads the team in runs scored (23). She is currently in the midst of a career-long 10-game hitting streak.
Senior first baseman Londen Ladner has knocked in a team-high 27 runs for the Rebels, and has belted out a team-high six home runs.
The Rebel pitching staff has been much improved this season, recording 26 games in which they have allowed three or fewer earned runs, equaling their season total from a year ago. The staff has been led by Carly Hummel, a fifth-year senior from Bakersfield, Calif., who holds a 9-7 record with a 3.17 ERA in 95.0 innings, and a team-high 90 strikeouts.
Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson is in her seventh year leading the Wildcats. The winningest head coach in program history, Lawson has led UK to two NCAA Super Regionals in the last three seasons, including a program-best 41 wins last year.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley (15-4), who was a Freshman All-SEC selection last year, leads Kentucky in the circle with a 1.96 ERA in 128.2 innings of work, striking out a team-high 110 batters. Senior Lauren Cumbess (8-0) has a team-best ERA of 1.61 in 74.0 innings of work.
Junior catcher Griffin Joiner has hit a team-high eight home runs, while sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann leads the team with 31 RBIs, and sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel has the highest batting average (.374) among those with at least two at bats per game.
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