By Adam Brown
Ole Miss softball opens SEC play on Friday as they travel down to Starkville to take on their in-state rival the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a three-game slate. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. on SEC Network+.
Ole Miss has opened the season with an over all 21-4 record. The Rebels swept Stephen F. Austin in a three-game series in their final weekend of action before conference play starts. They have now won 12 straight games dating back to February 26.
Outfielder Tate Whitley has perfectly assumed the role of leadoff batter for the Rebels. The senior leads the nation with 41 hits and is sixth in the country with a .506 batting average.
One of the Rebels’ top offensive weapons in Abbey Latham is back for an extra season in Oxford. The fifth year senior currently ranks inside the top five in program history in doubles (37), home runs (31), RBIs (135) and slugging percentage (.530).
Mississippi State owns a 16-10 record heading into the weekend series, including victories over Georgia Tech and a 1-0 shutout of No. 4 Florida during its opening weekend of SEC play last Sunday. Mississippi State leads the rivalry with Ole Miss 43-33, although the Rebels have dominated the series since 2015, boasting a 13-5 record, including their first sweep over the Bulldogs in program history last season.
Offensively, MSU is led by the SEC’s career home run leader, Mia Davidson. The graduate student paces the Bulldogs with a .412 average, 11 home runs, 26 RBIs and a 1.015 slugging percentage. Senior Chloe Malau’ulu ranks closely behind Davidson with 27 hits on the year and a .346 mark at the plate. In the circle, Annie Willis leads the team with a 1.69 ERA through 37.1 innings pitched. The reigning Co-SEC Pitcher of the Week is coming off a complete-game shutout win over the Gators last week. Kenley Hawk also has been strong in the circle for the Bulldogs with a 6-2 record and 1.88 ERA this season.
This marks the second straight season for the Rebels and Bulldogs begin conference action.
Game times for this series Friday (6 p.m. SEC Network +), Saturday (4:30 p.m. SEC Network) and Sunday (Noon SEC Network+).