OXFORD, Miss. — It is said a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Ole Miss took an impressive initial step on a possible journey to Oklahoma City and the NCAA Softball Championships by drilling Chattanooga 12-0 in five innings in the first round of the tournament in the Oxford Regional.
The Rebels will face Louisiana Saturday after the Ragin’ Cajuns edged Southeast Missouri State 3-2 earlier Friday.
Ole Miss used an opportunistic first inning to grab the lead. Kylan Becker opened the game by drawing a walk and then stole second. Abbey Latham then reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Autumn Gillespie loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch to fill the bags without benefit of a hit.
Brittany Finney followed with an easy RBI by drawing a walk and when Becker crossed the plate, the Rebels had a 1-0 lead.
Then Ole Miss got its first hit in dramatic fashion. Kaylee Horton ripped a triple to left field to clear the bases and suddenly the Rebs had scored four runs before recording their first out.
Horton scored to make it 5-0 on Jessica Puk’s ground out, but Ole Miss was not done in the first. Freshman Tate Whitley singled and moved to second on an error and scored a batter later on Amanda Roth’s single to move the score to 6-0.
The Rebels added five more runs in the second to extend the lead to 11-0.
Lost in the offensive outburst was Finney who struck out five in three innings to earn the win. Ava Tillman came on to pitch the final two innings to preserve the shutout.
For Horton, three was her lucky number. She was 3-for-3, scored three runs and drove in three more. Whitley and Roth each had a pair of hits in the Rebels’ 10-hit attack.
Becker added to her 1-for-3 night with a pair of stolen bases.
The Ragin’ Cajuns and Ole Miss will square off Saturday at noon.