By Collin Brister, Special to SuperTalk
If there were any nerves with their season on the line Saturday night, the Ole Miss softball team put them to bed early was they raced out to an eight run first inning and went on to run-rule Southeast Missouri State 10-0.
After senior leadoff hitter Kylan Becker reached to start the game, Abbey Latham gave the Rebels all the run support they would need as she hit a homerun to left field and put Ole Miss up 2-0.
“I was behind in the count, and I knew that I was fouling balls off,” Latham said. “I knew she probably wanted to come into the zone. Even though I had two strikes on me, I still wanted to put a good swing on it.”
The Rebels would had four RBI singles in the first inning from Jessica Puk, Mikayla Allee, Beacker and Latham behind the plethora of runs.
“I challenged them this afternoon,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Smith said. “We threw the first punch, and that really settled some nerves. It’s nice to be able to have that opening inning.”
The Rebels got another solid performance out of Brittany Finney in the circle, as she went three innings and didn’t give up a run for the second night in a row.
The Rebels put up two more runs in the top of the fourth inning on a two-run home run from Amanda Roth.
Ava Tillman would finish the game for the second night in a row, pitching two perfect inning and striking out one over her outing.
“We knew that when we had the lead, we had confidence in Ava,” Smith said. “It’s been hot, so it gave us an opportunity to get (Finney) out of there.”
The win puts the Rebels into their fourth straight regional championship. They’ll be tasked with beating Louisiana Lafayette twice on Sunday afternoon to advance to the super regional round against the winner of the Tuscon regional.
Sumer Emeryson will take the ball for the Cajuns tomorrow after pitching seven scoreless innings against the Rebels on Saturday afternoon.
“She’s good,” Smith said of Emeryson. “She’s got 200 innings, and they go to her. We know we’re going to be in for a dog fight tomorrow. We just have to come ready to play.”
The Cajuns are 52-4 on the season after winning their first two games of the Oxford regional, and haven’t dropped a contest since March 1, when they fell to No. 1 Oklahoma.
Smith didn’t announce a starter in the circle for the Rebels in the first game tomorrow, but noted if the Rebels pushed the regional to a seventh game, both pitchers would wind up starting a game.
First pitch is set for 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, with an if necessary second game slated to begin 30 minutes after the completion of the first game.