Ole Miss softball shuts out No. 18 Baylor 3-0 to open NCAA Regional
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – (Release) Catelyn Riley was dominant in the circle, and Lexie Brady brought the firepower, crushing a two-run home run, as Ole Miss softball shutout No. 18 Baylor to open the Salt Lake City Regional Friday afternoon at the Dumke Family Softball Stadium.
“I was just proud of how we came back,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “We came out with a lot of confidence; we have a lot of confidence, and I thought it was one of our most complete games in a while.”
The Rebels (31-26, 8-16 SEC) earned their ninth shutout of the season and seventh ever in the postseason. They blanked Baylor, becoming only the fourth team to hold the Bears (39-17, 8-10 Big 12) scoreless this season. Brady got the offense going early with a two-run blast, and Paige Smith also had an impressive day, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. Riley was almost unhittable in the circle, retiring 13 batters in a row. She earned her fifth win over a ranked opponent, going 6.1 innings and only allowing three hits.
After both teams stranded runners on base in the first inning, Ole Miss wasted no more time getting on the board. Savana Sikes led off the inning and was hit by the first pitch she saw. Brady stepped to the plate next and watched three balls before she blasted a home run to straightaway center to put the Rebels up 2-0.
With a two-run lead, Riley and the defense locked in. The sophomore retired the next 12 batters she faced and cruised through the fifth inning.
Ole Miss had an opportunity to tack on runs in the third inning. The Rebs put two runners on and forced a pitching change with one out but couldn’t bring anyone home. They had another opportunity in the fifth, and Smith made sure to capitalize. The senior belted her first career triple off the wall in left to score Tate Whitley and push the lead to three.
Baylor threatened in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Ole Miss defense held strong. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, the Rebels intentionally walked the Bears’ top slugger to load the bases. Riley remained in the game and got the next batter to pop up to Mikayla Allee at short for the final out of the inning.
Aynslie Furbush took over in the circle in the bottom of the seventh inning and retired the first two batters she faced before surrendering a walk. Ole Miss brought Riley back into the game, and she recorded the final out of the shutout to send the Rebels into the winner’s bracket of the Salt Lake City Regional.
The Rebels will take on the winner of Utah and Southern Illinois on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.