Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Ole Miss Softball Splits On Opening Day

Ole Miss softball split its opening day matchups, taking down Dixie State 10-1 in the first game of the Easton Invitational and dropping a tight neutral-site game to No. 18 Oregon, 0-3, on Thursday.

Paige Smith and the Rebel bats were hot in the first game of the doubleheader. Smith drove in five, three of which came on her first hit of the season, a three-run bomb. Landyn Bruce and Aynslie Furbush split time in the circle only, surrendering one run.

In the evening game against the Ducks, a late Rebel rally fell short in the seventh as Bre Roper broke up Oregon’s no-hit bid. Anna Borgen battled in a pitchers’ duel, tossing 5.2 innings and holding the nation’s No. 18 team to three runs.

GAME 1: OLE MISS 10, DIXIE STATE 1

Dixie State struck first, as a leadoff walk came around to give the Trailblazers an early 1-0 lead. Ole Miss responded in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of its own. Mikayla Allee worked a leadoff walk, and Abbey Latham wore a pitch before Smith blasted her first home run of the season over the left field fence.

After Bruce worked a clean inning, the Rebel offense quickly loaded the bases with no outs and proceeded to bat around. KK Esparza started things off with her first collegiate hit, and a pair of walks put the Rebs in business. Esparza came around to score on a sac fly from Roper, and RBI singles from Latham and Keila Kamoku extended the Ole Miss lead.

The Rebels flashed the leather in the third with a pair of defensive plays from Smith and Sydney Gutierrez. They put three more runs on the board after Allee launched a solo shot and Smith knocked in a pair, with a two-out double, giving Ole Miss a 10-1 lead.

Furbush took over in the circle in the fourth and worked a 1-2-3 inning, and for the first time all afternoon, the Rebels were held in check. She went back out for the fifth and recorded the final three outs of the ball game as Ole Miss picked up its first victory of the season in run-rule fashion.

GAME 2: OLE MISS 0, OREGON 3

Oregon came out of the gate hot, scoring two runs in the opening frame after loading up the bases and knocking a two-RBI single up the middle. 

The Ducks’ starting pitcher, Makenna Kliethermes, caught fire as the first inning came to a close. She struck out Latham to close out the frame and went on to punch out the next six Rebel batters. Borgen joined in on the pitchers’ duel and held Oregon at bay, and more importantly, kept the Rebels within striking distance.

After a two-out walk and single by the Ducks in the fifth, Ole Miss turned to Savannah Diederich in the circle. Han Delgado was able to sneak a base hit by Kamoku to tack on an insurance run before Diederich could get the strikeout.  

KK Esparza threw out the first baserunner of her career to end the top half of the seventh. Diederich also fanned a batter in the final frame. With three outs remaining, Roper broke up the no-hitter with a bloop single over the first baseman’s head. Furbush followed it up with a walk to put two on with no outs, but Kliethermes stuck out the next three batters faced to complete the shutout.


Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

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