With its season on the line, Ole Miss softball rallied back not once but twice, taking down Grand Canyon and LMU and advancing to the Regional Final Saturday night at Easton Stadium.
Both contests featured come-from-behind heroics and seventh-inning rallies as the Rebels battled for one more day together.
“I’m just proud of our team today,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “We kind of always talk about this, where different people having different opportunities to step up. Good teams find a way to win, and we did that today.”
The Rebels picked up their 40th and 41st victories of the season, marking the second-most in a single season in program history, tying the 2016 and 2019 seasons.
GAME ONE | Ole Miss 9, Grand Canyon 5
The Rebels were resilient, scoring nine unanswered runs to erase a five-run deficit in the first elimination game of the day, topping Grand Canyon 9-5.
GCU (39-16, 19-5 WAC) came out hot, putting up a five-spot in the first inning. The Lopes used five hits to take the early lead, including a three-run blast off the bat of Stephanie Reed.
Facing an early deficit for the second consecutive game, Ole Miss never wavered. The Rebels began chipping away at the lead as Bre Roper drove in Mikayla Allee on an RBI double in the second inning and then used a big fifth inning to turn the tide and take the momentum back.
Catelyn Riley gave the Rebels three solid innings in the circle. She entered with two outs in the first inning and proceeded to quiet the Lopes’ offense.
Ole Miss used three straight singles from Roper, Abbey Latham and Sydney Gutierrez to start the fifth inning. Trailing 5-2, Aynslie Furbush worked a walk to load the bases, and the Rebels began to do some damage. A run came home on an RBI groundout by Keila Kamoku, and two more scored on a fielder’s choice and error at second base, and GCU couldn’t get the hang on to the throw.
Savannah Diederich took over in the fourth inning and tossed the final 3.1 innings. The California native was lights out in the circle, striking out six of the 11 batters she faced.
With the score locked at five, Ole Miss seized control in the seventh, scoring four runs to win the ballgame. Allee and KK Esparza both reached to start the inning, and Whitley moved the pair into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. That brought Roper, one of the hottest hitters in the Regional, to the plate, where she doubled off the wall in left to plate the go-ahead runs.
Looking to add to its lead, Nyomi Jones bunted her way aboard and swiped second before scoring with Roper on an RBI single from Gutierrez. The super senior gave Ole Miss two more insurance runs, making it a 9-5 game, and Diederich capped it off for her sixth win of the year.
GAME TWO | Ole Miss 4, LMU 2
Playing a tough LMU team for the second straight day, Ole Miss scored three runs in the top of the seventh to rally past the Lions and advance to Sunday’s regional final.
Diederich got the start in the circle and continued to cruise against LMU. She had the Lions’ number, striking out eight and only allowing one base hit through the first five innings.
On the other side, the Rebels had a few early chances to score but finally broke through in the fifth inning. Esparza led off the frame, slicing a double down the first base line. Brooke Barnard came in to pinch run for her and scored as Roper smacked a base hit back up the middle.
The Lions didn’t go away quietly. They scored two in the bottom half of the sixth inning using a leadoff double and a pair of base hits to take the lead back. Catelyn Riley was able to end the threat and turn things over to the top of the order for Ole Miss.
Down to its final three outs, Whitley, the SEC’s leader in hits, placed a perfect bunt down for a leadoff single. Stepping to the plate with seven hits already in the Regional, Roper did her job, laying down a sacrifice bunt to move Whitley into scoring position, and it all paid off as Gutierrez ripped a double into the gap to tie the game at two.
With the momentum on the Rebels’ side, Furbush singled right back up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run and eventually crossed the plate herself on an RBI groundout to make it a 4-2 contest. She then came in to pitch the final inning, retiring the side in order for her first save of the season.
With the victories, Ole Miss advances to its second straight Regional Final under Trachsel. The Rebels will face off against the host and No. 5 overall seed UCLA Sunday at 5 p.m. CT.
Courtesy of OleMissSports