Ole Miss splits on Day 1 of Cowgirl Classic
LAKE CHARLES, La. - Ole Miss softball split contests with Stephen F. Austin and McNeese State on the first day of competition at the Cowgirl Classic Saturday at Joe Miller Field. The Rebels (7-5, 0-0 SEC) dropped their first game of the day to SFA but found a way to bounce back in the evening with a strong victory over McNeese.
GAME ONE: OLE MISS 1, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 3
Ole Miss struggled to get the bats going, only mustering up two hits, as it fell to SFA 1-3 in the first game of the Cowgirl Classic. Grace Sparks tossed five solid innings for the Rebels but couldn't get any run support from her offense.
Stephen F. Austin struck first in the top of the second after a throwing error on a would-be sac-bunt resulted in a pair of runners in scoring position. The Ladyjacks took advantage of the miscue the very next batter, plating two runs on an RBI single. Sparks worked out of the jam with the help of her defense to minimize the damage and send the offense to the plate in the bottom half of the inning.
The Rebels worked the count in the second, utilizing a single from Mya Stevenson and three free passes to cut the lead in half. Unfortunately, they couldn't come away with more as a strikeout stranded the bases loaded.
After a quiet third inning for both teams, SFA restored its two-run lead in the top of the fourth with an RBI double in the gap. Ole Miss turned to Brooke Vestal heading into the sixth inning, looking to keep within striking distance.
Down to their final three outs, the Rebels couldn't get anything going offensively.
GAME TWO: OLE MISS 8, MCNEESE 2
Ole Miss wasted no time in the nightcap, scoring in each of the first three innings to cruise past McNeese State 8-2. Aynslie Furbush looked sharp in the circle, earning her fourth victory of the season. Offensively, the Rebels tallied nine hits, led by Stevenson and Paige Smith, who each finished with two.
Smith came up big for the Rebels in the top of the first, lining a bases-clearing double off the wall in center field to give Furbush and her team an early lead. McNeese answered, scratching a run across in the bottom half of the inning to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
The offense continued to click in the second and third innings as Jamie MacKay launched her first collegiate home run, a solo shot to left field, and Stevenson blasted a solo homer over the scoreboard. McNeese, however, countered with a run in the second.
Leading 5-2 in the bottom of the third, Furbush settled in. She stranded a pair of baserunners to get out of a jam and worked a one-two-three fourth. Makenna Kliethermes took over in the circle in the fifth inning with a runner on and one out. The righty struck out the next two batters to send Ole Miss into the sixth with its lead still intact.
The Rebels added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh. After Smith and Lexie Brady singled to put runners on the corners, Nyomi Jones laid down a bunt single and jetted around the bases after the Cowgirl third baseman sent the throw into right field. She came around to score the very next batter when Savana Sikes slapped a double in the gap. Kliethermes came back out for the final frame, slamming the door and striking out the side to pick up her first save of the season.
Ole Miss closes out play at the Cowgirl Classic on Sunday with another doubleheader against SFA and McNeese at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. CT.