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Ole Miss Softball Heads to Athens for SEC Series

By Adam Brown
Sports Editor

Photo by Adam Brown

The No. 15 Ole Miss softball team closes out the regular season this weekend as they take the diamond against No. 14 Georgia Bulldogs in Athens in a three game series starting Friday. First pitch is set for 5 p.m. on SEC Network +.

Ole Miss (36-13, 13-7 SEC) comes in after taking the series over Tennessee last weekend. The Rebels have not lost a conference series this season.

One win this weekend will guarantee the Rebels a top-4 seed and a bye in the SEC Tournament, while the Rebs are already guaranteed their highest finish in the league standings in school-history, locked into a top-6 spot. Ole Miss still has a chance to seal the program’s first-ever SEC Regular Season Championship if they can sweep their three games with Georgia and LSU wins 2-of-3 games against Alabama.

One of the keys to success for the Rebels in 2019 has been the pitching staff’s ability to keep runs to a minimum for the opposing side. Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC with a 1.96 team ERA, the 21st-lowest in the nation. When the pitching staff is in prime form, the Rebels are nearly unbeatable, posting a 26-2 record when allowing two runs or fewer this season. The Rebels have allowed more than three runs in just 14 games in 2019, registering a 31-3 record in all other contests.

Ranked as high as No. 14 in the nation, the Bulldogs enter the final week of the season with a 36-16 overall record, sitting in ninth in the SEC standings with a 9-12 mark in league action. Georgia has done a bulk of its damage at home, posting a 26-8 record in Athens compared to a 10-8 mark outside of its home stadium. Of the Bulldogs’ 16 losses, eight have come against ranked teams, posting a 4-8 record against Top-25 sides, all from the SEC.

A large portion of the Bulldogs’ offense this season has come via the long ball, ranking ninth in the nation and second in the SEC with 70 home runs. UGA is led by senior Alyssa DiCarlo, who’s 21 big flies are the fourth most among all Division I players. DiCarlo also paces Georgia with a .397 average, 12 doubles, 53 runs scored and 54 driven in. Junior Ciara Brian has the second highest average on the team at .362, chipping in five doubles, five triples and 10 homers with 45 runs and 34 RBIs. Freshman Lacey Fincher has had a productive rookie campaign, batting .326 with six doubles and nine dingers, scoring 41 runs and driving in 28 more. Despite boasting a paltry .238 average, the lowest among regular players, freshman Savannah Sikes ranks second on the team with 45 runs driven in, smoking eight home runs.

Deficient of a true ace, Georgia has utilized its stable of pitchers to keep their opponents at bay, with four hurlers logging more than 60 innings. Junior Mary Wilson Avant has seen the most work with 83.1 innings in 21 appearances and 14 starts, posting a 9-4 record and a 2.69 ERA. Kennesaw State transfer Alley Cutting has pitched 80.1 frames in 22 appearances and 11 starts, earning a 2.79 ERA and a 9-4 mark. Senior Kylie Bass, who the Rebels faced briefly in Oxford last season, owns a 9-3 record in 20 appearances and 13 starts, garnering a 2.14 ERA in 72 innings complete. Sophomore Lauren Mathis rounds out the group with 67.2 frames in the circle, going 7-4 in 22 appearances and 10 starts with a 2.69 ERA.

The Bulldogs have dominated the series over the Rebels in the all-time series with a 45-11 record as they won 33 straight games from 2004-2016. Ole Miss has won three of the last four meetings with a 2-1 series win last year in Oxford.

Game times are set for Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. respectively and Sunday at noon. Fans can watch all the action on SEC Network+.

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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