Ole Miss Rebels softball reaches NCAA Super Regionals

For the first time in school history, Ole Miss is an NCAA Regional Champion, and will head to Super Regionals next weekend following a 7-2 victory over North Carolina Sunday afternoon.

The Rebels (43-18) capped off what turned into a memorable weekend in Oxford that saw almost 5,000 fans cross through the gates of the Ole Miss Softball Complex. Through three games in the regional, Ole Miss allowed only two runs, and piled on 17 to claim its seventh-straight win on Sunday.

This weekend’s NCAA Super Regional between No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 5 UCLA will be featured as one of the nation’s marquee matchups, with all three games set for a national TV audience on the ESPN Networks.

The three-game series gets underway Thursday night in Los Angeles at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN. Friday’s game two is also set for 8 p.m. CT and will air on ESPNU, while the if necessary game on Saturday is slated for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch on ESPN.

ESPN’s nationally-known crew of Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Michele Smith (analyst), Jessica Mendoza (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will have the call from super regional action.

As has been the case for the latter part of the season, the Rebels relied on the arm of Kailin Lee, who again earned her way to another stellar victory. She threw her school record 12th-straight complete game, and allowed only two runs off five hits, with six strikeouts to settle in after the first couple frames.

Offensively, Elantra Cox again paved the way going 3-for-3, while Brittany Finney had the go-ahead, 2-run blast in the six that gave the Rebels the lead. Senior Miranda Strother, in potentially her final home game as a Rebel, made it a big one with a 3-for-4 performance and two RBI and two runs scored.

Unlike the last few games though, Ole Miss had to battle back after going down early, 2-0, after two innings. The Tar Heels (40-21) jumped on Lee early in the first with a bloop single just past Kaylee Horton at second, before an RBI single to left made it a 1-0 game.

They went on to add another run in the second off an RBI single that sneaked up the middle, but that would be the only scoring of the day as Lee settled down from there. She went on to retire the side four times, and saw solid defense behind her.

The Rebels began their fight back in the fourth after Cox legged out an infield hit to the shortstop, and Strother drove her in off a single back up the middle. Finney then stepped in and singled just over the head of the third baseman, tying it up 2-2 after four.

The Tar Heels threatened again in the fifth after a leadoff double from Leah Murray, before a walk put two on, and Lee intentionally walked another to set up a bases loaded situation. But, she prevailed and got a grounder right back to her ending the threat keeping the game locked at 2-2.

Strother came back in the sixth to leg out an infield single that went to first, before Finney cranked a 2-run shot way over the left field wall, giving Ole Miss the 4-2 lead.

The Rebels went on to add three more in the seventh after Strother singled through the right side scoring Cox for a 5-2 lead, before a wild pitch, and Courtney Syrett RBI single made it 7-2.