Softball Preview: Rebels travel to Starkville for “Easter Egg Bowl”
OXFORD, Miss. – Considering the holiday that is arriving this weekend and the Rebels’ opponent, perhaps the upcoming Ole Miss softball series with Mississippi State should be called the “Easter Egg Bowl.”
The series had been set to begin on Thursday due to the Easter holiday; however, inclement weather forecast for Starkville has forced the first game to be moved to Friday.
LOOKING AT STATE
Mississippi State comes into the series 26-11, but the Bulldogs have just three conference wins. MSU is 17-6 at home, however.
State cannot be accused of trying to play station-to-station softball. The Bulldogs feature two of the most powerful bats in the SEC.
Sophomore Mia Davidson not only leads the league in home runs with 22, she also is on top of the conference in runs batted in with 54. She also leads the team with a .434 batting average. Right behind her on the stat sheet is Arizona State transfer Fe Leilua. The junior has 20 home runs while driving in 45 runs. She is third on the team, hitting .366.
As a team, Mississippi State is fourth in the SEC with 59 home runs.
UMass transfer Candace Denis checks in hitting at a .368 clip.
In the circle, Emily Williams is 8-6 with a 2.68 earned run average. The sophomore has struck out 105 batters in 102 innings. Alyssa Loza has made the most of her playing time. Another Arizona State transfer, Loza has made eight starts and is 8-1.
Denis has made three starts and is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA.
AS FOR THE REBELS
Ole Miss enters the series at 31-11 (9-5 in the SEC).
Senior Kylan Becker continues to be in the zone. The Miami native is third in the conference in hitting with a .440 average and she has seven of the Rebels’ league-best 16 triples. She also has swiped 23-of-27 bases this season.
Livingston, Ala., native Abbey Latham is hitting a robust .347 with a team-leading nine doubles. She also has seven homers and has driven in 39 runs. Freshman Tate Whitley is third on the squad, hitting .346.
Jessica Puk and Brittney Finney have provided the Ole Miss power with eight homers each.
The Rebel pitchers have also found success this season. Molly Jacobsen is fifth in the league with 116 strikeouts in just over 115 innings. She is sporting a 12-4 record with a 1.70 ERA. Finney has held her own in the circle as well. She is 11-5 with a 2.27 ERA and 86 strikeouts.
Ole Miss is third in the SEC with a 2.03 ERA, just behind Tennessee’s 2.02 mark.
Molly Jacobsen is fifth in the league with 116 strikeouts in just over 115 innings. She sports a 1.70 ERA. (Photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
RUNNING REBELS: When Ole Miss gets runners on base, they tend to be in motion. The Rebels are second in the league with 93 stolen bases on a conference-leading 115 attempts. Kylan Becker has notched 23 steals, third in the SEC, while Kayley Horton (16) and Abbey Latham (15) are in fourth and sixth, respectively, in the league.
Mississippi State leads the SEC with four runners picked off base.
FAMILIAR FOES: Both teams have played more than a few common opponents this season. Each team has defeated UAB, Memphis, Tennessee-Martin, Central Arkansas and UCF in out-of-conference play.
The only common league opponent so far is Kentucky. Ole Miss took 2-of-3 in Lexington, while Mississippi State dropped 2-of-3 to the Wildcats.
MSU’S STUDEMANN USED TO WINNING: State coach Vann Studemann has enjoyed her time in Starkvegas when it comes to playing in-state teams. Since arriving at MSU in 2011, she has only lost twice to Mississippi teams. However, both losses came at the hands of the Rebels.
When she was an assistant at Alabama, Studemann’s Crimson Tide won three SEC titles and appeared in the College World Series six times during her tenure.
NOT VERY STATELY: The series features the two SEC teams from Mississippi, but a look at each team’s roster shows a shortness of something – Mississippians.
Ole Miss has just one player from the Magnolia State, Kelsha Lofton who hails from Mendenhall.
The Bulldogs have four natives on their roster. Two of them should know the Oxford area well. Freshman Chloe Morgan is from nearby Batesville, while senior Kat Moore is a Holly Springs product.