Road Test at No. 1 Florida Awaits No. 18 Rebels
April 20, 2017

Ole Miss Notes - Florida Get Acrobat Reader

Games 45-47
No. 18 Ole Miss (31-13, 6-9 SEC) at No. 1 Florida (41-3, 15-2 SEC)
Dates: April 21-23, 2017
First Pitch: Fri: 5 p.m. | Sat: 3 p.m. | Sun: 11 a.m. (All times CT)
Location: Gainesville, Fla.
Venue: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium
TV: Fri: SECN+ | Sat: SECN+ | Sun: SEC Network
     Fri/Sat: Tom Collett (pxp) | Kelsey Horton (analyst)
     Sun: Melissa Lee (pxp) | Jennie Ritter (analyst)
Mobile: ESPN App
Live stats: OleMissSports.com
Series: Florida leads 45-8
Last Series: April 8-10, 2016
     No. 2 Florida swept 3-0
     Oxford, Miss.
Twitter Updates: @OleMissSoftball

LEADING OFF

  • With just three weeks left in the regular season, No. 18 Ole Miss hits the road for its toughest test yet at No. 1 Florida.
  • The series marks the third in which Ole Miss will face the Gators when they’re ranked No. 1 nationally (2009, 2014).
  • Ole Miss’ last win in the series came in that 2014 season, when the Rebels picked up a 2-0 shutout in the opener.
  • The Rebels’ only other win in Gainesville came back in 2010, a 6-4 decision in eight innings.
  • Florida heads into the weekend with a substantial lead in the SEC standings, while the Rebels are right in the mix in a three-way tie for seventh (Misissisppi State, Kentucky).
  • After starting 0-6 in league action, the Rebels have since won six of their last nine, including a series win over then No. 16 Kentucky, a victory at No. 5 Auburn, and most recently a three-game sweep over No. 11 LSU last weekend.
  • Ole Miss’ three remaining SEC opponents are a combined 35-18 in league play, and have RPIs of No. 1 (Florida), No. 14 (Alabama) and No. 28 (Missouri).
  • The Rebels are up to No. 30 in the latest RPI, their highest mark of the season, only three spots off tying the highest mark in school history, set in week 14 of last season.
  • Ole Miss has eight wins over top 25 opponents this season, four of which have come in the last two weekends alone.
  • Head coach Mike Smith earned career win No. 850 in Tuesday’s win at UT Martin, and has led Ole Miss to its third-straight 30-win season, and fourth overall.
  • In last weekend’s sweep over No. 11 LSU, the Rebels held the Tigers to a .198 average and only two earned runs (both on Sunday), with two shutouts and two walk-off victories (Game one - Miranda Strother; Game three - Alyssa Gonzalez).
  • In SEC play alone, the Ole Miss pitching staff ranks sixth in the league with a 2.94 ERA, and has six complete game performances and three shutouts.
  • Junior RHP Kaitlin Lee has spearheaded the effort with a 2.08 ERA in 12 league appearances, and has gone the distance in six of her eight starts, allowing just 18 earned runs over 60.2 innings. She’s worked nine-straight complete games overall, tied for the longest streak in program history, and already ranks tied for sixth in single-season wins.
  • Junior OF Elantra Cox has reached safely in 17-straight games, thanks in part to a 14-game hitting streak, second in school history behind only her 17-game streak earlier this season. She’s also nearing two single-season records, just six hits away from the record, and five runs from a school record.
  • Senior OF Miranda Strother, who ranks in the top 10 in 11 different school offensive career records, is just one run away from becoming the program’s career leader in runs scored (136). She’s also tied for first in the SEC in steals in SEC play with eight.
  • Sophomore Kylan Becker has the seventh-best average in SEC play (.357) and is tied for ninth in hits (15).

SCOUTING REPORT
Florida surged back to the No. 1 spot in both national polls this week and sits at 41-3 overall and 15-2 in league play. Led by 12th-year head coach Tim Walton, the Gators have won no less than 48 games in each of the last 10 years with two national titles in the last three seasons. Since taking over the program in 2003, Florida has made it to the NCAA Tournament every year since 2005, including seven Women’s College World Series Appearances. The Gators’ only three losses on the year have come to Maryland, No. 4 Auburn and No. 21 Kentucky, and at one point carried a 20-game winning streak, the fifth-longest in the NCAA this season. Florida most recently run ruled UCF, 9-1, Wednesday night, heading into the weekend series.

Pitching and defense has been the focal point for the Gators this season, as they lead the country in ERA (0.76) and fielding (.986). Sophomore Kelly Barnhill, the most dominant pitcher statistically in the country, has been near untouchable in the circle, leading the country in ERA (0.19), hits allowed per seven innings (2.78) and strikeouts per seven innings (13.0). She’s yet to lose a game in 18 starts, and has allowed just three earned runs in 110.2 innings. Her strikeout-to-walk ratio is off the charts, 205-23, and she’s held opposing hitters to a .118 average. A member of the USA Softball National Team, Barnhill has nine solo shutouts and 10 complete games. Behind her, Delanie Gourley has been dominant as well with the only three Florida losses to her name at 13-3 with a 1.01 ERA, 11th-best in the country. In her 15 starts, she’s gone the distance 11 times with seven shutouts, and given up just 15 earned runs in 104.1 innings with a .149 average against. Aleshia Ocasio, third on the team in innings pitched (55.0), has also yet to lose with an 8-0 record and 0.89 ERA in nine starts. Defensively, the Gators have mady only 16 errors all season, good enough for a .986 fielding percentage, which leads the NCAA.

While the pitching has been the highlight, the offensive production has been just as impressive, as the Gators have the nation’s 11th-ranked scoring offense with 6.34 runs per game. They rank sixth nationally in on-base percentage (.436) and 28th in slugging (.474), and are also 31st in the country in stolen bases per game (1.75).  Kayli Kvistad leads the way with a .380 average, and is tied with Jaimie Hoover with 37 RBI. Amanda Lorenz has a team-high seven home runs, while Jordan Roberts is second with six. Lorenz leads the club with 16 extra-base hits and has 40 walks, while Kvistad’s 49 walks lead the conference. Justine McLean leads the team with 14 steals.

LAST GAME VS. FLORIDA
May 12, 2016 • Starkville, Miss. • No. 2 Florida 1, Ole Miss 0: Just 24 hours after earning its first win ever in the SEC Tournament over No. 15 Georgia, Ole Miss gave No. 1 Florida all it could handle, falling in a heartbreaker despite going four innings without a run allowed.

Senior pitcher Madi Osias, who was the anchor in the circle all season, was again effective, shutting out the (then) two-time defending national champions for a majority of the contest.

After the contest got underway at 4:35 p.m. CT, thunderstorms moved into the area forcing a delay at 5:18 p.m. After a wait of more than three plus hours, the two teams finally resumed past 8 p.m. local time in the third inning.

Both teams went scoreless in the first through fourth, but it was the fifth that looked to be promising for the Rebels, and ended up being the frame that was all the difference in favor of the home team.

Kylan Becker got Ole Miss’ only hit to leadoff the fifth off a single through the left side, before Courtney Syrett moved her to second on a sacrifice bunt. When Dakota Matiko drew her ball four to walk, Becker moved to third on the wild pitch setting the tables for Grayce Majam. But, a hard-hit line drive off Majam’s bat went right to the shortstop, and the ensuing throw went to first for the double play, thwarting what was a potential offensive inning for the Rebels.

In the next half, Florida got it going when Stewart doubled to left center and moved to third on an error. After two-straight walks, Osias worked a big strikeout to Amanda Lorenz, before a passed ball put the runners in motion. After the ball trickled to the backstop, Syrett picked it up, fired to Osias, who just missed the tag scoring the only run of the contest.

FROM ONE (LINEUP) EXTREME TO ANOTHER
In the 2016 regular season, the Rebels had the same batting order only five times, totaling 52 different lineup combinations through 57 games. The theme has become very similar despite having the same batting order in 14-of-15 games from Feb. 19-March 11. Through 43 contests, Ole Miss has 26 different lineups from top to bottom, and just one player has started all 44 (Miranda Strother - CF). The Rebels went 16-straight games with a different order from March 12-April 8, but had the same order in back-to-back games in the Auburn series. Elantra Cox is the only player who has maintained her same spot in the order all year long (leadoff).

IT DOESN’T GET ANY EASIER FROM HERE...
Ever since the start of SEC play, Ole Miss has faced one of the toughest schedules of any team in the league, ranking in the top five in future strength of schedule. Now with 11 games left in the regular season, the Rebels have the NCAA’s seventh-toughest schedule remaining. The NCAA ranks teams’ strength of schedules (past and future) based on opponent records, and Ole Miss’ remaining opponents are 157-61 (.720) with an average RPI of 39. Of the teams with top-19 toughest schedules, Ole Miss’ opponents have the least amount of losses, half of which can be attributed to the two remaining non-conference teams.

REBELS UP TO NO. 30 IN RPI
After a 4-0 week and a sweep over then No. 10 RPI LSU, the Rebels improved six spots to No. 30, their highest ranking this season. Ole Miss has six wins over top-25 RPI teams this season, including four in the last two weeks alone. According to the RPI report, the Rebels’ average RPI loss is No. 25, with all five SEC series’ thus far coming against top-25 RPI teams. With 12 games left in the regular season, the Rebels will face two more top-15 teams (No. 1 Florida, No. 14 Alabama), and two others inside the top 50 (No. 28 Missouri, No. 50 Jacksonville State).

REBELS AGAINST THE 2016 WCWS FIELD
Within a three-week stretch, Ole Miss will have faced three teams from the 2016 Women’s College World Series, and four total in 2017 (Oklahoma, Auburn, LSU, Alabama). The Rebels have had good outings thus far against the two programs who played for the 2016 national title (Oklahoma, Auburn), posting a combined 20 runs in four games. In two games against No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 5 Auburn, Ole Miss scored eight and 10 runs, respectively, the most any team has scored on those two clubs all season. In the last two weeks alone, the Rebels have won four games against teams from last year’s WCWS (Auburn, LSU).

GOING. GONE. GONZALEZ.
With the series win over No. 11 LSU already in hand, the Rebels trailed early in the finale with the Tigers, and headed into the seventh inning down 2-0. Grayce Majam got a 1-out rally going with a single through the right side, before Dylinn Stancil rolled a grounder to third, when a bad throw resulted in no outs and everybody safe. That’s when freshman Alyssa Gonzalez stepped in as a pinch hitter, and on an 0-1 count, crushed a 3-run home run just inside the left field foul pole, walking it off over LSU. It marked Ole Miss’ second walk-off win in as many days, and sixth overall of the season.

BRING OUT THE BROOMS
Heading into the LSU series, Ole Miss had a combined three games in Oxford in 18 years. In a matter of 24 hours, the Rebels matched that with a three-game sweep over the Tigers in last weekend’s series. It marked the first sweep over LSU in school history, and the first ever sweep over a ranked SEC opponent for the Rebels. The pitching staff dominated throughout, allowing only two runs with two shutouts, totaling a 0.64 ERA across the 22 innings. Kaitlin Lee earned two of the wins and also picked up a save, while Morgan Bruce got the win in the middle game. The duo combined to hold opponents to a .198 average with only 16 hits allowed.

GIVE HIM 100
In just three seasons -- with the third not even complete -- head coach Mike Smith has surpassed the 100-win mark as the Rebels’ head coach. The 1-0 victory in game two of the LSU series secured his 100th win, the fastest in school history to reach that milestone. In 162 games at the helm of the program, Smith has been responsible for 20 percent of the program’s wins all-time in just three years, leading the Rebels to three consecutive 30-win seasons.

THE HOT HAND
If there was an award for SEC Newcomer of the Year, junior RHP Kaitlin Lee would be right in the mix for plenty of reasons. She’s the team’s leading pitcher in every category and has literally carried the team for a majority of SEC play. After starting 0-6 in league action, the Rebels have since gone 6-3, and a big reason for that is Lee. Since the start of the Kentucky series back on March 31, she’s gone 4-2 with a 1.12 ERA, accounting for 70 percent of the innings pitched. All six of her starts resulted in complete games, and she’s tallied two shutouts in that period with only 11 earned runs allowed in 43.2 IP. Including non-conference play over the last 12 games, Lee is 7-2 with a 0.70 ERA, and has 79 percent of the team’s innings with only seven earned runs given up in 69.2 IP.

ON DECK
Following weekend play, the Rebels return home for the final five home games of the season, beginning Wednesday vs. Jacksonville State at 6 p.m.

For all Ole Miss Softball news and information, go to OleMissSports.com and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissSoftball, on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball and on Instagram at Instagram.com/olemisssoftball. Fans can also follow head coach Mike Smith on Twitter at @msmithsb16. Additionally fans can get a behind the scenes look at Ole Miss Athletics on Snapchat under the handle, @WeAreOleMiss.

 

 

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