Softball Closes Out Successful Fall Season

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Redshirt freshman pitcher Emily Gaitan has impressed coaches this fall.

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Redshirt freshman pitcher Emily Gaitan has impressed coaches this fall.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 22, 2013

OXFORD, Miss. - After playing eight fall scrimmages, including three against division I opponents, the Ole Miss softball team now turns its attention to individual workouts and the winter break.

It was a successful fall season for the Rebels, as every player on the team got experience and a lot of at-bats, continued to grow and improve while posting a winning record against division I foes UAB, Memphis and Middle Tennessee State.

"We had some good competition and we had some struggles in there, but we had some senior leadership, some freshmen coming through and some of our sophomores, who maybe didn't have a lot of opportunities early on, stepping up late at the end," Ole Miss softball head coach Windy Thees said. "I like what we did. Obviously, for me, I still see perfection as where we're supposed to get, so there's a lot of work to be done, but I like how we progressed from week to week."

Unlike previous years, the Rebels faced division I teams this fall in UAB, Memphis and MTSU, and also hosted a doubleheader against last season's junior college national champion, Wallace State. The result of playing against competitive teams like that was very beneficial from an experience standpoint, Thees said.

"It was great for us this fall because it gave us a more realistic view of where we are, what we can do, what we can't do - we can't take teams lightly," said Thees, who is entering her third season in Oxford.

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.

"They need more at bats at this level, but we've got some hitters in there," said Thees of the newcomers. "With (Miranda) Strother and (Courtney) Syrett, (Alyssa) Invergo getting to play some finally, I like what I see offensively from them.

"Defensively, everything in college is faster so they need to play faster. One thing I was really proud of was how good Courtney Syrett was as a catcher, and how well she handled our staff. That's a staff she doesn't even know and has only caught for three weeks and she was back there blocking balls and catching pitchers who have a ton more movement than anything she's used to seeing. That's probably the toughest position in the fall to get used to, and over the fall I've seen her continue to get better and better, which is really exciting.

"Emily Gaitan has really dirty stuff. Emily Boyd has powerful stuff. For them it's a matter of settling in, building confidence and getting more and more innings."

In addition to Gaitan and Boyd in the circle, Thees also saw strong play from seniors Shelby Jo Fenter and Carly Hummel and sophomore Madi Osias. Combined, the three pitchers threw 78 percent of the Rebels' innings last season and figure to play another large role in 2014.

"Shelby Jo made some huge strides in realizing her movement is really good until she tries to overpower it," Thees said. "She's found her zone and her point of maximum return and realized when she hits it she's getting swings and misses and strikeouts and not having to throw 30 pitches per batter.

"For Carly, it was her first fall in a couple years. She sat out all last fall and it was her first time pitching, really, since her hand surgery. She's got dirty stuff and she's a competitor. For her, it's just a matter of keeping it going and staying healthy.

"Madi had a tremendous fall. It was the best pitching I've seen her have since putting a uniform on. She had just spot-on control, all of her pitches working and she was really fun to watch out there on the mound."

One season after posting the third best fielding percentage in the country (.979), the Rebels return their entire starting infield. Thees said her pitchers will throw more drop balls this season and that will give the infield even more opportunities to make a stamp on the game.

With fall games now over, Thees, associate head coach Mike Perniciaro and assistant coach Julie Meyer will work with the team doing individual workouts until the Thanksgiving holiday. The coaches then cannot do anything with the team until Jan. 11 when spring practice begins.

"Our team is stronger, more fit and has an awesome focus," Thees said. "I like where we're going. The biggest thing for them to remember is that as we strive for these things, that it's a fun game and that it is a game. We can't ever forget that it's a game. If they remember that, they'll play even better. It's when they make it even more than it is that it can stress you out and your performance can drop. They have to keep that perspective and bring that joy to the field every day. The goofiness of it all, the fun of it all, win or lose they can have focus and go after it, but you have to remember the big picture. This is a good group."

Ole Miss opens the 2014 season Feb. 7-9 in Fort Myers, Fla. There, the Rebels will face tournament-host Florida Gulf Coast, Georgetown, Liberty and Western Kentucky.

For all Ole Miss softball news and information, go to OleMissSports.com and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissSoftball and on Facebook at Ole Miss Softball.

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Rebels Not Lacking Motivation in Rivalry Matchup

      Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - Football

      Head coach Hugh Freeze called the Egg Bowl the most prized possession of this university's football program, and getting the Egg Bowl back should be enough motivation for his team entering Saturday's game against Mississippi State.  An Independence, Mississippi, native,... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 17-23, 2014)

      Monday, November 24, 2014 -

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 17-23, 2014Men's Basketball- Ole Miss posted a 2-0 mark last week with wins over Southern University and Northern Arizona as part of the Emerald Coast Classic, improving to 3-1 on the season.- Ole Miss... read more

    • Golson Named Finalist for Conerly Trophy

      Monday, November 24, 2014 - Football

      Senior cornerback Senquez Golson, one of five finalists for the Bronco Nagurski Award, which honors the national defensive player of the year, will represent Ole Miss as one of 10 finalists for the C Spire Conerly Trophy, which honors the... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 23

      Sunday, November 23, 2014 - Athletics

      It's that busy time of the year with the Ole Miss football, volleyball, men's and women's basketball teams all in action. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was in Ole Miss sports:- A slow start (17-0... read more

    • Rebels Unable to Overcome Slow Start

      Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Football

      FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas jumped out to a 17-0 in the first quarter and took advantage of six Ole Miss turnovers on the way to a 30-0 shutout win Saturday in Fayetteville."I was concerned all week, for whatever reason, that... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-Arkansas

      Saturday, November 22, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 8 Ole Miss travels to Arkansas in its final road game of the regular season Saturday. Slowing the Hogs' Ground Attack The extra week of preparation, defensive coordinator Dave Wommack said, should prove beneficial... read more

    • Rebels Ahead of Schedule in Year Three

      Thursday, November 20, 2014 - Football

      It's sometimes easy to forget where the Ole Miss football program was just three short years ago, when Hugh Freeze was interviewing for the head coaching position. The Rebels had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 10-16, 2014)

      Monday, November 17, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 10-16, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened up the 2014-15 season with two wins over the weekend. The Rebels took down Grambling 92-67 in the season opener on Friday and followed... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 16

      Sunday, November 16, 2014 - Athletics

      The Ole Miss football team was off, but it was a busy week in Ole Miss athletics nevertheless, as the men's and women's basketball teams opened their respective seasons. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week that was:-... read more

    • Getting Healthy, Staying Sharp on the Bye Week

      Friday, November 14, 2014 - Football

      No. 10 Ole Miss was without several starters and regular contributors against Presbyterian, and many others were limited.  But given an extra week of rest, head coach Hugh Freeze said he expects everyone, with the exception of the players out... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 11

      Wednesday, November 12, 2014 - Football

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 11 - Presbyterian (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Nov. 3-9, 2014)

      Monday, November 10, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewNov. 3-9, 2014Football- Ole Miss took a break from the rugged Southeastern Conference and earned a 48-0 shutout win over Presbyterian on Saturday.- It was the Rebels' first shutout since beating Tulane 39-0 in 2012.-... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Nov. 9

      Sunday, November 9, 2014 - Football

      Austin Miller handled all of this week's edition of the Observations from the Best Seat in the House. Check out what he had to say below:- The nation's best scoring defense finally got its first shutout of the season, as... read more

    • Wilkins, Dodson Shine in Blowout Win

      Saturday, November 8, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss racked up the second-most yards in school history, totaling 640 yards, including 402 yards on the ground, in a 48-0 rout of Presbyterian. The Rebels were able to limit the reps for several players in the contest, with... read more

    • Three and Out: Keys to Ole Miss-PC

      Saturday, November 8, 2014 - Football

      Three areas to watch as No. 11 Ole Miss hosts FCS opponent Presbyterian in its final non-conference matchup of the regular season. Execute, Stay Heathy Saturday's game with Presbyterian is more about Ole Miss than its opponent, as the team's... read more