Rebels face Villanova in Tucson Regional’s opening game
Ole Miss Softball wins the diamond tonight against the Villanova Wildcats in the opening game of the Tucson Regional in the NCAA softball tournament. The first pitch is set at 5 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
Ole Miss (34-20, 12-12) is returning to Tucson for the first time since the 2019 Super Regionals against the Wildcats to begin her run and play in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
“It was nice to come here yesterday (Wednesday) to train in the air and on a comparable field,” said head coach Jamie Trachsel. “It’s the postseason game and anything can happen. To move your season forward you will be on your way at some point and I look forward to the challenge. ”
That season, senior Sydney Gutierrez finished the SEC averaging .366 in conference play, finishing 11th in the league. The average is the fourth highest in a conference season for a rebel in the past decade.
In the circle, Ole Miss’ pitching team gave opposing batsman passes throughout the season. The Rebels have scored 16 shutouts this season, the second highest in the SEC, the eleventh highest in the nation and just one shortfall on the program record set in 2017. Of the 16 shutouts, 10 have made full game efforts from the start, with Anna Borgen on the team at five and Savannah Diederich at three.
Villanova (36-13, 15-2) comes fresh from her Big East crown in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats have won 36 of their last 43 games and are up 0.735 percent this season.
Villanova has a strong offensive, starting with senior pitcher / utility Paige Rauch, who is one of the country’s top performers both on the plate and in the circle. She became the first person to be named both BIG EAST Player of the Year and BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year in the same season. Rauch hits .420 in the season with a team high of 60 hits and 43 RBIs, while he posted a 1.97 ERA through 163.2 innings this season.
“We expect your best,” said Trachsel. “She’s a pitcher and a player who does her best when it counts. We know it is hard in the zone on either side of the plate. “
Against smoke in the circle, the rebels want to try to take a seat away from her.
“We want to go up there and have good bats and be aggressive,” said Trachsel. “Put pressure on their defenses and don’t let them hit us on both sides.”
The rebels are 2-0 against Villanova on the diamond.