By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss Rebels softball team will take the diamond this evening out in the desert as they face the Arizona Wildcats in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Softball Tournament. First pitch for game one of the three-game series is set for 6 p.m. on ESPNU.
Ole Miss (41-18) fought out of the loser’s bracket to win the 2019 NCAA Oxford Regional, defeating No. 7 Louisiana twice on Sunday to advance to Super Regionals. Entering the regionals, the Ragin’ Cajuns had been defeated just four times all season.
Senior Kylan Becker became Ole Miss’ single-season record holder in runs scored, crossing the plate for the 52nd time in 2019. Becker eventually added another run, scoring the walk-off winner in the seventh.
Coach Mike Smith is leading his club into their second-ever appearance into the Super Regionals. The last time Ole Miss went was in 2017 against UCLA.
Arizona (45-12) boasts a 12-9 record against ranked teams, going 2-2 against SEC foes after defeating Auburn twice to claim the Tucson Regional.
One of the most dangerous offensive lineups in all of college softball, Arizona ranked ninth in the nation with a .324 team batting average, racking up the second most home runs in the country with 103 big flies. 2017 First Team All-American Jessie Harper is a big reason behind that astonishing total, with the junior leading the nation with 28 dingers while pacing the Wildcats with 69 RBIs and 62 runs scored, batting .353. Junior Reyna Corranco leads the team with a .432 batting average, scoring 50 runs and driving in 39 more. Junior Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza is second for the Wildcats with a .387 average, blasting 18 homers to go along with her team-high 18 doubles. Palomino-Cardoza is second only to Harper with 61 runs driven in and 57 more scored. Juniors Malia Martinez and Dejah Mulipola have also crossed the 50 RBI plateau, registering 13 and 21 home runs, respectively.
In the circle, First Team All-Pac-12 performer Taylor McQuillin has carried a large portion of the load during her final season in Tucson. The senior has nearly doubled the next closest Wildcat with 181.1 innings in the circle, posting a 22-7 record in 31 appearances and 27 starts, garnering a 1.54 ERA with 24 complete games and 10 shutouts. McQuillin has shown tremendous control, racking up 205 strikeouts compared to just 45 walks in 2019. Junior Alyssa Denham is the only other player to break 35 innings in the circle, posting a 1.93 ERA and a 12-5 record in 20 appearances and 18 starts, tossing 98.0 frames.
The Rebels and Wildcats have played just once before, with then No. 2 Arizona edging Ole Miss 3-2 in Tucson in the 2004 season opener. The Rebels out-hit the Wildcats 7-to-6 in the ball game but a fifth-inning run was the difference for the home team.
Fans can watch all the action of this series on national television on ESPNU, 6 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2 and Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN 2.