The Rebel softball team officially began its countdown to the 2016 season Sunday with the team’s first practice on the campus of Ole Miss.
“We came back in really good shape,” second-year head coach Mike Smith said following practice. “The girls coming back a couple weeks early, whether they were in school or just come back working with our strength coach, I thought was huge advantage for us going into day one. In 19 years coaching, I felt like this was the best any of my teams have looked offensively on day one. I thought we swung the bats well and made some good contact. I thought we did some situational hitting very well and felt like we were ready to go. Defensively, it’s hard to do team defense on your own over Christmas, so I knew that would be a struggle a little bit. It’s getting our feet wet, getting back on track and getting our verbiage back defensively.”
Sunday’s four-hour session, split between the Ole Miss Softball Complex and Manning Center, begins a week-long schedule of two-a-days for the 24 players on the 2016 roster.
The team began the day with base running drills, before splitting into batting practice groups on the field. Players also put in work in the indoor facility before moving across campus to the football indoor facility for more defensive work and a simulated game.
“I felt like we did a good job after we got ourselves together,” Smith added. “We’ve got great energy. The girls are excited, they busted their tails, worked hard today and that’s all I ask. If we continue each and every day like we did today we’re going to be ready to go when we start the year.”
Fourteen players return from the 2015 team that went 30-25 overall, tied for the most wins in the 19-year history of the program. Eleven newcomers to the team, including five transfers, suited up for their first spring practice as a Rebel Sunday.
The Rebels are set to appear seven times on national television in 2016, including four home matchups on SEC Network. All home games not broadcast on network television will be available on WatchESPN as part of the SEC Network+ digital streaming platform.
Ole Miss opens the season Feb. 11-13 at the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics