OXFORD — Three outs away from elimination, the Ole Miss softball team found a little bit of magic.
Ole Miss won its third-consecutive elimination game on Sunday night, defeating Louisiana 5-4 to advance to Super Regionals for the second time in program history, the first since 2017. Ole Miss trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before tacking on the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom half of the frame for the comeback victory.
Down to their final three outs, Ole Miss came into the bottom of the seventh inning with freshman shortstop Mikayla Allee due up. Allee led off the inning with a double, which centerfielder Kylan Becker followed with an infield single to put two runners on base with no outs. First baseman Abbey Latham followed with a strikeout but Becker stole second base, giving the Rebels two runners in scoring position with one out.
Catcher Autumn Gillespie tied the score in the next at-bat with a suicide squeeze bunt, scoring Allee and reaching base safely. After designated player Gabby Alvarez bunted and reached base on a fielder's choice to load the bases, right fielder Kaylee Horton chopped a high grounder at the shortstop, scoring Becker and giving the Rebels the victory.
Why did Ole Miss find itself trailing? With two outs and two runners on base in the top of the fifth inning and his team leading 3-0, Ole Miss coach Mike Smith made a pitching change, replacing right-hander Brittany Finney with left-hander Molly Jacobsen, who had allowed just one earned run in 14 innings against UL throughout the Oxford Regional. Jacobsen's success didn't translate into her third appearance versus the Ragin' Cajuns, as the junior allowed a three-run home run to the first batter she faced, tying the game.
One inning later, Jacobsen allowed a fourth run to score on a wild pitch, giving Louisiana its first lead of the game. After Jacobsen loaded the bases with a walk, Finney returned to finish the sixth inning. Finney stranded the bases loaded for the second time in the game, limiting the Rebels' deficit to one run.
Ole Miss jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning behind three hits, including RBI singles from designated player Gabby Alvarez and second baseman Jessica Puk. The Ragin' Cajuns responded by loading the bases against Finney in the top of the second inning, but Finney stranded them loaded by forcing a groundout to preserve the lead.
The Rebels extended their lead to 3-0 in the third inning off a two-out RBI single from right fielder Kaylee Horton that scored first baseman Abbey Latham.
Playing in her last game of an historic four-year career in Oxford, centerfielder Kylan Becker batted 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch to improve to 9-for-15 (.600) across the five games she played in the Oxford Regional. By scoring in the first inning, Becker set the Ole Miss program record for most runs scored in a season as a Rebel with 52. The senior also robbed a home run in the second inning to keep the Ragin' Cajuns off the scoreboard.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or email@example.com. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.