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Future of Ole Miss Softball Looks Bright

Future of Ole Miss Softball Looks Bright

OXFORD, Miss. — “The kids are alright.”

Although that phrase is most closely associated with the song of the same name by rock legends, “The Who,” it seems to aptly fit the 2019 Ole Miss softball team.

The season did not end the way the team and its fans wanted as the Rebels finished with a two-game sweep at the hands of Arizona over the weekend, but a look at head coach Mike Smith’s team bodes well for 2020.

Kylan Becker (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, )

Yes, there are losses that will be felt deeply. Kylan Becker, Brittany Finney, and Izzy Werdann are all seniors who will be sorely missed. Becker, the prototypical leadoff hitter, used her speed to not only get on base, but to take the extra base, and her defense was key in the Rebels’ 41-20 season.

Finney was a dual threat for Ole Miss. Not only was she formidable as a pitcher, but she also provided incredible power at the plate.

But just look at who comes back in 2020.

In the circle, Molly Jacobsen returns. Starting out as somewhat of an unknown commodity as a junior college transfer, all she did was finish the season with 14 wins and lead the team in innings pitched.

Sophomore Ava Tillman also comes back after earning valuable experience spelling Jacobsen and Finney in the circle.

The lineup should be solid as well next season as the entirety of the defense returns except for Becker in centerfield.

In the infield, Amanda Roth is back at third, Mikayla Allee at shortstop, Jessica Puk at second, Abbey Latham at first and Autumn Gillespie behind the plate.

In the outfield, Kaylee Horton is back as is Freshman All-SEC performer, Tate Whitley.

Gabby Alvarez and the speedy Kelsha Lofton also return after posting solid performances in 2019.

Brittany Finney (Photo credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

And that is what the 2019 team was — solid.

In its 40 wins, Ole Miss beat Women’s College World Series bound Oklahoma State as well as Florida. 

The Rebels also competed well against two other WCWS-bound teams — UCLA and Texas.

Ole Miss beat tournament teams Kentucky, Mississippi State, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and dropped a game to Boise State.

Don’t forget the Oxford regional when the Rebels beat a 50-win Louisiana team twice—and their NCAA win-leading pitcher Summer Ellyson—to reach the Super Regionals.

The ace in the hole in the Ole Miss hand is head coach Mike Smith. In just five seasons in Oxford, he has turned the Rebels from an afterthought in the SEC to a force in the conference. Before he arrived on campus, Ole Miss had never reached the NCAA Tournament. Under his leadership, the Rebels have played in two Super Regionals.

But the thing he has done is make the Ole Miss softball brand appealing to recruits nationwide. He has the ability to sell the program to recruits around the country and the campus setting sells itself.

It is like the old adage, “If you don’t want to go to Ole Miss, don’t take a visit.”

Perhaps Becker best summarized the shape of the Rebels’ softball program. “Every year just keeps getting better. I think we have a pretty good recruiting class coming in,” she said. “We only lose three players, and that’s a really young team and they look really good. There’s a lot of fight in them. I think they’re going to be good next year.”

That’s just another way to say, — “The kids are alright.”


Ole Miss Super Regional Post Game Press Conference – Day Two

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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