OXFORD, Miss. – The calendar reads September, but the Ole Miss softball team gave a hint of what fans can see in the coming spring with a doubleheader sweep of Wallace State at the Ole Miss Softball Complex on a gorgeous Thursday evening in Oxford, Miss.
“We’ve got a really good thing going,” Ole Miss softball head coach Windy Thees said. “This was our ninth day of team practice today, so we’re still getting to know each other and trying people out at a lot of different positions. That was something we did well today.”
The Rebels and Lady Lions played two seven-inning games Thursday to open the fall season. Standing out for Ole Miss, among others, was sophomore Madi Osias. The Tustin, Calif., native batted a team-high .368 last season and knocked out six home runs. Thursday she picked up where she left off from her rookie campaign by going a combined 3-3 in the two games with four runs, two RBI, two doubles, and a home run.
“Offensively, she was seeing the ball really well,” said Thees, who is entering her third year leading the Rebels. “She’s so smooth and simple with her swing that when it’s on she can really attack. She showed a lot of power today, obviously, with the home run and doubles.”
“It’s awesome to be back out here,” said Osias, who also pitched four innings Thursday. “We’ve been working really, really hard on the field, so to be able to get out here and actually play some games is awesome. Getting to play as a team again is always a great experience.”
Ole Miss returns 13 letterwinners this season, including its entire starting infield. The Rebels led the Southeastern Conference and were third nationally with a .979 fielding percentage. Ole Miss’ 16-9 start last season tied the second best start in program history for the opening 25 games, and the Rebels’ nine-game winning streak from Feb. 20-March 1 tied the program record for longest winning streak.
Junior third baseman Allison Brown hit the most doubles in a single season in school history (17) and the second most RBI (43) in a single season last year. Senior catcher Marina Parra threw out an SEC-leading 22 base runners attempting to steal, and senior pitcher Carly Hummel threw the fourth no-hitter in program history when she struck out 10 batters April 9 in an 8-0 (5) victory over Arkansas State.
Ole Miss welcomes in three freshmen for the 2014 season, including Emily Boyd, Miranda Strother and Courtney Syrett, and a junior college transfer in Jamie Morgan. Also playing for the first time this season will be a pair of redshirt freshmen in Emily Gaitan and Alyssa Invergo. Gaitan redshirted after enrolling a semester early, and Invergo missed the 2013 campaign while recovering from an injury.
“Commitment is probably the biggest thing I have seen out of this group,” Thees said. “At the end of last year they said they wanted their statement this year to be ‘We want more.’ We want more for Ole Miss softball, we want more as a team and we want to expect more out of ourselves. So far, we’ve done that.”
The Rebels will play again Sept. 28 against UAB in Birmingham, Ala. Ole Miss will play at home again Oct. 10 in a doubleheader against Northwest Mississippi Community College. Those two games are also the Rebels’ final two games of the fall season.
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