Ole Miss beats Louisiana twice, wins NCAA Oxford Regional
OXFORD, Miss. — Louisiana came into Championship Sunday of the Oxford Regional with a 29-game winning streak. The Ragin’ Cajuns left with a two-game losing streak.
Ole Miss took a pair of games from Louisiana on Sunday to escape the elimination bracket and win the event. But it took some last-inning heroics to pull it off. Here’s a look back at how it happened.
Game Two | Rebels defeat Louisiana to win Oxford Regional
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Ole Miss rallied for a pair of runs to win the regional and advance to Super Regionals.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mikayla Allee slammed a two-strike pitch into the right center field gap for a lead-off double. Katelin Cooper came on to pinch run, and she moved to third when Kylan Becker reached on an infield hit.
Becker soon stole second, and with two runners in scoring position, the Rebels had three chances to drive in the tying and possibly the winning run.
Abbey Latham went down when she watched a change-up catch the outside corner for strike three. But Autumn Gillespie picked her up by dropping down a squeeze bunt to score Cooper with the tying run.
Gabby Alvarez then dropped down a bunt that was not quite far enough to score Becker; however Alvarez reached to load the bases.
Kaylee Horton followed with a high hopper to shortstop that allowed Becker to score the game winner.
— OMSP (@OleMissVideo) May 20, 2019
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a team,” head coach Mike Smith said after his team’s regional championship win.
“We just had a never-say-die attitude. We felt disappointed after our loss yesterday and we came back with a vengeance. We knew that we wanted to get to a Super Regional. I’m happy for this senior class that we get that opportunity to go out to Tucson, Arizona and play.”
Ole Miss head coach Mike Smith
Ole Miss is now 40-18, Louisiana ends its season 52-6.
Not only did the Rebels have to get past Louisiana, they also had to beat the nation’s leader in wins Summer Ellyson — twice. Ole Miss was up to the task.
In the winner-take-all game, Becker opened the Rebels’ first by getting hit by a pitch and moved to second when Latham flew out to deep left field. Gillespie followed with an infield hit to put runners on the corners.
Alvarez followed by lacing a liner off the glove of Ellyson that trickled into right field to allow Becker to score to give Ole Miss a 1-0 lead. Gillespie and Alvarez each moved up to put runners on second and third with one out.
Gillespie appeared to score on a sacrifice fly by Horton but was sent back to third by the umpires when it was deemed Horton had stepped on the line of the batters’ box. Gillespie scored anyway as Jessica Puk lined a single to left to make it 2-0 and send pinch runner Kelsha Lofton to third, but the threat ended there.
In the top of the second, Sarah Hudek opened the inning with a single and then Julie Rawls sent a shot that was destined to leave the ball park. Becker had other plans as she jumped, reached over the wall and grabbed the ball for the first out of the inning.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 19, 2019
One out later, Lexie Comeaux singled past Puk to put runners on first and third with two outs. Kara Gremillion followed with a walk to load the bases.
Finney got pinch hitter Bailey Curry to bounce to third to get out of the inning with no damage.
Latham opened the Rebels’ half with a single and Gillespie sent a high hopper up the middle that shortstop Alissa Dalton grabbed, appeared to step on second and throw to first for a double play. But the umpires conferred and allowed Gillespie to remain at second.
One out later, Horton sent a shot up the middle to score Gillespie and put the Rebs in front 3-0.
Louisiana mounted a rally in the top of the fifth. With one out, back-to-back singles by Casidy Chaumont and Alissa Dalton gave the Cajuns a pair of runners. Finney then fanned Keeli Milligan to end her night in the circle.
Molly Jacobsen came on in relief and it did not get the result coach Mike Smith wanted.
Sophomore Raina O’Neal pounded the second pitch she saw and deposited it over the left field wall and suddenly the game was knotted at 3-3.
Becker opened the home half with a single and she moved to second on a wild pitch and Latham reached by drawing a walk to put two runners aboard. But Gillespie struck out and Alvarez grounded out to move the runners into scoring position with two outs.
But nothing would come from the threat as Horton bounced to second for the third out.
Louisiana took advantage of its chance. Rawls opened with a single and immediately moved to second on a wild pitch. Kourtney Gremillion followed with an infield hit to put two Cajuns on base with no outs.
Jacobsen rebounded to strike out Comeaux for the first out, but Kara Gremillion dropped down a perfect bunt and the Cajuns had the bases loaded.
Then with two strikes on Chaumont, Jacobsen had one get away from her and get to the backstop. Rawls scored to give Louisiana a 4-3 edge.
One out later, Dalton walked to fill the bases and Smith went back to Finney in the circle. The senior got Milligan to line to Roth to end the inning, to set the stage for the Rebels’ comeback.
Finney (18-9) scattered five hits to earn the win. Ellyson took the loss in both games and ends the year 39-6.
— OMSP (@OleMissVideo) May 20, 2019
“We knew today that we were going to win,” Kylan Becker said in the postgame press conference.
“Honestly, I think the whole team knew we were going to do this. We were battle-tested the entire season. Almost every SEC regular season game turned into a rainout and a doubleheader, and we kind of just lived off of that. We won so many series off of the doubleheader that we knew that we were prepared for it. It was destiny and that was practice for now.”
Game One | Rebels defeat Louisiana 5-1
To get to the winner-take-all game, Ole Miss had to defeat the Ragin’ Cajuns earlier in the day. The Rebs jumped on Ellyson and cruised to a 5-1 win.
In the third inning, Ole Miss used both power and speed to score all five of its runs.
With one out, Allee stepped up and blasted a solo shot over the left field fence to put the Rebs on top.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 19, 2019
Then Becker showed off her speed.
The senior dropped a bunt down the third-base line and Kara Gremillion’s throw was wide of first and rolled all the way down into the right field corner. By the time the Cajuns ran the ball down, Becker had circled the bases and put Ole Miss ahead 2-0.
That play also chased Ellyson from the game.
Latham greeted Louisiana reliever Carrie Boswell by sending the first pitch she saw over the right field wall and suddenly Ole Miss led 3-0.
After Boswell issued a walk to Gillespie, she gave way to Alison Deville. She was met with a seeing-eye single by Alvarez and a two-run triple to Horton to put Ole Miss up 5-0.
In the bottom half of the inning, Louisiana strung together three straight single to plate a run and cut the deficit to 5-1. Ole Miss avoided further damage when Amanda Roth was able to cut a run off at the plate and Jacobsen induced a ground ball out to end the rally.
Louisiana would not roll over, however. In the bottom of the sixth, the Ragin’ Cajuns loaded the bases with two outs. But Jacobsen got Kourtney Gremillion to hit a liner and Allee made a lunging catch to preserve the four-run lead.
Jacobsen (14-4) struck out eight in the win.
Rebels head to Arizona for Super Regionals
Ole Miss will head west to Tucson to play Arizona after the Wildcats defeated the Auburn Tigers in Regional action. The winner of the best-of-three series will punch its ticket to the Women’s College World Series!
The Rebels open play in game one at 6:00 p.m. (CT) at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Friday, May 24. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Game 2 is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Saturday and will be broadcast on ESPN2. If necessary, Game 3 will be played Sunday at 7:00 p.m. on ESPNU.
For ticket info, click here.
Click here for the NCAA Softball College World Series bracket.
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.