ATHENS, Ga. - A career-high four hits from Tate Whitley and four RBIs from Abbey Latham helped Ole Miss softball even the series with No. 16 Georgia Saturday afternoon at Jack Turner Stadium.
Taking advantage of scoring opportunities, Ole Miss (37-16, 11-12 SEC) was 7-of-13 with runners in scoring position. The Rebels' 12 hits were their most in a conference game this season, as Whitley led the way with a 4-for-5 day at the plate. Latham also had an impressive game, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two singles. In the circle, Brooke Vestal tossed 6.1 innings, allowing six runs on five hits to earn her first career SEC victory.
Whitley and the Rebels got on the board quickly as she picked up her 70th hit of the season to lead off the game. Bre Roper walked to put a pair on for Latham, who belted a three-run shot down the left field line. Georgia, however, responded with a three-run shot of its own to tie the game up at three after one.
After escaping a bases-loaded threat in the top of the second, the Bulldogs took the lead on an RBI single and would hold it until the fourth inning, when Latham sent one back up the middle to plate Whitley and tie the game again.
Ole Miss broke things open in the fifth inning, batting around the order and scoring four runs. Catelyn Riley doubled down the line to lead off the frame and scored immediately on a base hit from Paige Smith.
Georgia was able to get two outs in the inning, but Ole Miss kept the rally going. Whitley delivered an RBI base knock to center, putting runners on the corners, and Roper singled back to the pitcher, beating out the underhand toss to score Furbush. Back-to-back walks to Latham and Sydney Gutierrez loaded the bases and walked in a run to double up the Bulldogs.
Despite giving up four early runs, Vestal found her groove in the third. She held the potent Georgia offense without a hit for nearly four innings, retiring 12-of-14 batters faced to get her through six.
Ole Miss added two more big insurance runs in the top of the seventh. Whitley picked up her career-high fourth hit of the afternoon, laying down a perfect bunt. A batter later, Latham collected her third hit of the game and swiped second to move into scoring position. Gutierrez then delivered a pair of insurance runs that would prove pivotal for the Rebels.
Down to its final three outs, Georgia made things interesting. The Bulldogs loaded the bases and plated four runs, but Savannah Diederich was able to record the final out, securing the victory.
With the win, Ole Miss sets up a rubber match with Georgia. The two teams will square off on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT with the series on the line.
Tate Whitley tallied a career-high four hits in the victory. She became the fourth Rebel ever to reach the 70-hit mark in a single season, joining Elantra Cox (93 in 2017), Kylan Becker (84 in 2019 and 74 in 2017) and Hailey Lunderman (76 in 2016).
Whitley also crossed the plate a career-best four times. She's scored 50 runs so far this season, the third-most in a single season in program history and five off the all-time record.
Abbey Latham's 44 RBIs this season are one shy of the second-most in a single season in program history and 10 off her own program record set back in 2019.