Ole Miss upsets No. 1 Florida in SEC softball tournament
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — First, Ole Miss took out the Bulldogs. Then, it took out the big dog.
Kaitlin Lee threw a two-hit shutout to lead Ole Miss to a 2-0 upset of top-ranked and top-seeded Florida in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference softball tournament on Thursday.
The Rebels (38-18) snapped a nine-game losing streak against Florida (50-6) and advanced to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the first time in program history. It was only the third win ever for Ole Miss in the tournament. It had picked up No. 2 the day before against archrival Mississippi State.
Ole Miss will play Alabama Friday at 2 p.m. The winner will face either LSU or Auburn in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m.
“Defining moment,” Ole Miss coach Mike Smith said in describing the victory. “To the point of, my behind is constantly vibrating right now. I had over 63 text messages (when I walked in here). I had like 39 phone calls, and I’m sure there’s a lot more. People are proud of where we’re at. I’m proud of where this program has come in, really, three short years. It is a defining moment.”
Ole Miss played a series at Florida three weeks ago and was shut out in all three games. It ended that streak in the first inning Thursday.
The first two batters of the game, Elantra Cox and Kylan Becker, reached base on a single and an error, respectively. After the next two batters made outs, Dylinn Stancil hit a line drive down the right field line that bounced into the corner. Both runners scored to give the Rebels a 2-0 lead.
“I saw there was an opportunity for me to take and that I needed to take it for my team because it was the only one that we were going to get. So I just did what I’ve been working hard to do and I just executed it,” Stancil said.
The Rebels had a couple of other scoring chances, but couldn’t push a run across. Florida pitchers Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill combined for 11 strikeouts and neither walked a batter.
Lee matched them.
The junior right-hander struck out four and didn’t walk a batter in throwing her second consecutive gem in the tournament. In the opener against Mississippi State she allowed only a first-inning home run in a 2-1 victory.
Lee retired the first 10 batters she faced against Florida before Kayli Kvistad broke up the perfect game with a one-out single in the fourth inning. The Gators’ other hit was a two-out single by Janell Wheaton in the seventh. Neither runner got past first base.
“She threw a changeup for a strike almost every time, threw pitches on the outside corner and most of the result pitches were out of the strike zone. You could hear (the ball hit) on the end of the bat,” Florida coach Tim Walton said. “I thought she hit her spots and at the end she got us to wave at the pitches she wanted to get us out with.”
SEC SOFTBALL TOURNAMENT
2 p.m. ESPNU – Ole Miss vs. Alabama
4:30 p.m. ESPNU – LSU vs. Auburn
7 p.m. ESPN – Championship game