GULF SHORES, Ala. - Opening the 2018 season at the Sand Dollar Classic, Ole Miss came out on top in its two games on Thursday, defeating Virginia Tech and Florida A&M at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex.
Game One | Ole Miss 5, Virginia Tech 1
The Rebels got the "W" in the season-opener, scoring in each of the first three innings on the way to a 5-1 victory over Virginia Tech.
Elantra Cox got the season started off on a high note, taking the first offensive pitch of the year for the Rebels down the left field line for a double. After Cox advanced to third on a wild pitch, Celeste Wood brought her home with a grounder to short to put the Rebels up 1-0 after one.
Ole Miss started fast in the second inning as well. Autumn Gillespie walked and Dylinn Stancil cranked a double down the right field line to put runners on the corners. Freshman Ally Mena laced a single through the left side to bring Gillespie home. During the next at bat, Paige McKinney reached on an error at third base as Stancil scored to make it 3-0.
The Rebels made it 5-0 in the third when Stancil ripped her second two-bagger of the game, plating Wood and Gillespie. Virginia Tech cut the lead with a run in the fourth but Ole Miss was able to keep the Hokies at bay the rest of the contest.
Kaitlin Lee got the start and the win in the circle, throwing five innings complete and allowing just one run on four hits, striking out five. Brittany Finney came on in relief and threw the final two frames, shutting out the Hokies on a single hit.
Game Two | Ole Miss 6, Florida A&M 0
In the nightcap, a scrappy Florida A&M squad hung tough with the Rebels but in the end Ole Miss was able to break the game open in the seventh and secure a 6-0 victory.
It didn't take long for Cox to make her mark in game two, lining a ball just inside the right field line for a triple to lead off the game. Two batters later, Wood singled through the left side to bring the Rebels' lightning quick left fielder home.
When the Rebels added a run in the third, it was again Cox that got the party started. The senior lined a ball through the left side and turned on the jets, making what would be a routine single for just about anyone else a double to lead off the inning. After Cox stole third, Gillespie drove her in with an infield single to short.
The Rattlers kept the game close throughout before Ole Miss busted things open in the final inning. After Mena blooped a double into right, Becker plated the freshman with a single to first. With the bases loaded later on, Alex Schneider drove a ball deep to left, scoring Cox on the sacrifice and allowing Becker to come home on the throw. Gillespie came up next and singled to second, scoring Kaylee Horton for the final run of the frame.
Morgan Bruce started in the circle and earned the win with six innings of work, holding the Rattlers to just two hits, fanning five. Freshman Anna Borgen debuted for the final inning, striking out a pair in her lone perfect frame.