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
    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 14-20, 2015)

      Monday, April 20, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 14-20, 2015Men's Tennis- Ole Miss downed No. 22 Vanderbilt 4-1 to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 16th time in program history.- The Rebels rallied to take the doubles point and then got... read more

    • Rebels Continue Push to Host in NCAA's

      Thursday, April 16, 2015 - Men's Tennis

      With a split of road matches at South Carolina and No. 8 Georgia, the Ole Miss men's tennis team moved up one spot to No. 13 in the nation entering the Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Championship this week in College... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (April 7-13, 2015)

      Monday, April 13, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review April 7-13, 2015 Baseball - Ole Miss finished the week with a 2-2 mark to remain a .500 overall record for the season (18-18) as well as 7-8 in SEC play. After dropping a... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- April 12

      Sunday, April 12, 2015 - Athletics

      The baseball team claimed claimed their second series of the second over the nation's top-ranked team in dramatic fashion. The football team wrapped up spring practice. And the men's and women's tennis teams closed out their respective regular seasons and... read more

    • Quarterbacks Make Final Case of Spring Practice

      Saturday, April 11, 2015 - Football

      At one point, co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner said, all three quarterbacks had completed around 66 percent of their passes, a testament to how close the competition has been this spring. Going into the Grove Bowl, Freeze said one had a... read more

    • Hilton, Mullins Share Similar Story, Spirit

      Saturday, April 11, 2015 - Football

      Former Ole Miss head coach Billy Brewer almost did not sign Chucky Mullins, whose memory has been honored with the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. Nate Wayne, a four-year letterman for the Rebels and the 1997 recipient of the award, who... read more

    • Three and Out: Grove Bowl Edition

      Friday, April 10, 2015 - Football

      #RebelNation here are the Red and Blue rosters for tomorrow's Regions Bank Grove Bowl. See you there! pic.twitter.com/FZptUEkW4P-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) April 10, 2015 Three areas to watch as Ole Miss splits into two teams for the annual Regions... read more

    • Long But Rewarding Journey For Shepard

      Friday, April 10, 2015 - Football

      Junior cornerback Tee Shepard's story has been well-documented.  Shepard is hearing impaired, but since he has arrived at Ole Miss, he has been the beneficiary of new hearing technology that has allowed him to hear sounds, such as a coach's... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Men's Hoops Season Recap

      Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Women's Hoops Season Recap

      Tuesday, April 7, 2015 - Women's Basketball

      read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (March 31-April 6, 2015)

      Monday, April 6, 2015 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewMarch 31-April 6, 2015Baseball - Ole Miss finished the week with a 2-2 mark to remain a .500 overall record for the season (16-16).  - The Rebels claimed a midweek victory over Memphis before dropping... read more

    • Six Rebels Make MLB Opening Day Rosters

      Monday, April 6, 2015 - Baseball

      Six former Rebels begin the 2015 Major League Baseball on opening day rosters. Chris Coghlan, Zack Cozart and Seth Smith all started or are slated to start on opening day for their respective teams. Lance Lynn and Drew Pomeranz will begin the season... read more

    • Scholtz Makes One More Memory

      Sunday, April 5, 2015 - Men's Tennis

      The reigning SEC Player of the Year, Nik Scholtz decided to return for his senior season, wanting to give Ole Miss and Oxford one more season.Playing in perhaps his last home match at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center Saturday, Scholtz gave... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Hoops NCAA First Four

      Thursday, April 2, 2015 - Men's Basketball

      read more

    • VIDEO: All-Sport 2014 Highlight

      Wednesday, April 1, 2015 - Athletics

      read more