KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – No one outside the Ole Miss softball program believed the Rebels could beat No. 1 Florida. But they knew it, and did just that, shocking the Gators with a 2-0 shutout Thursday in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
With the victory, the Rebels (38-18) will advance on to play No. 15 Alabama, the No. 5 seed, in the semifinals at 3 p.m. ET Friday in Knoxville.
Junior RHP Kaitlin Lee took a perfect game to the fourth, and didn’t allow a single Florida (50-6) runner to second base, as she threw no doubt the best game of her career leading Ole Miss to its biggest win in program history. The JUCO transfer, in her first SEC season, allowed only two Gator hits, and struck out four with a perfect defense behind her.
The Rebels tacked on seven hits against Florida starter Delanie Gourley, including two each from Elantra Cox and Dylinn Stancil. Stancil smoked a two-run double down the line in right in the first inning, putting Ole Miss in front, 2-0, and the lead held the rest of the way as Lee and her defense handed the Gators just their sixth loss of the year.
Cox gave Ole Miss the spark it needed from the top with a leadoff single. Kylan Becker put pressure on the Gators’ defense with her speed, forcing an error by Aleshia Ocasio at third, putting two on. Ashton Lampton then stepped in and did her job with a sacrifice bunt moving the runners up, before Stancil stepped in and delivered the biggest hit of her career, a double that scored both Cox and Becker.
From there, Lee cruised through innings one, two and three, tallying a pair of strikeouts in the second. The Rebels again threatened in the fourth with Stancil singled into shallow right, before Kaylee Horton came up for a bit at-bat. She doubled to left-center and scored Stancil for what would’ve been the third run, but Stancil was called out for leaving early at first taking the run off the board. Horton went on to re-hit and single to left, but was stranded.
The Gators came back in the home half to break up Lee’s perfect game when Kayli Kvistad singled with one out, but Lee didn’t let it affect her, getting a fly to left, and groundout back to her to end the fourth with a 2-0 advantage.
Ole Miss again put pressure on in the fifth when Paige McKinney reached on an infield single, before Cox dropped a bloop single to left, and Becker beat out an infield hit to load the bases. But, Gourley prevailed this time, getting a pair of groundouts to end the frame.
From there, Kelly Barnhill entered to finish it out for the Gators and was effective, but Lee was just as solid, getting the Gators in order again in the fifth and sixth. Florida went on to put a runner on with two outs in the seventh off a single to left, but McKinney handled all three outs from the shortstop position to seal the victory.
- Ole Miss claimed its ninth win against Florida all-time, and first in three years, with the fifth-ever shutout over the Gators.
- It marked just the Rebels’ second win all-time against a No. 1 ranked team, with the last coming in 2014, also against the Gators (regular season game).
- Ole Miss handed Florida just its second shutout of the year (March 27 – 1-0 loss to Auburn).
- The Rebels helped snap a 20-0 streak, becoming the first team to knock off a No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament in their first game.
- It marked the Rebels’ third win all-time in the SEC Tournament, as they advance to the SEC Tournament Semifinals for the first time in school history.
- Junior RHP Kaitlin Lee was once again dominant, throwing her eighth shutout of the year, in her 21st complete game performance of the season. Her eighth shutout breaks the Ole Miss single season record, and her 21st complete game puts her sixth in school history. With her 18th win, she inches closer to Madi Osias’ single-season record of 23 victories. It also marked her 24th start allowing two earned runs or less in 31 starts.
- Freshman Dylinn Stancil tallied her sixth multi-hit game of the year, going 2-for-3 with the two RBI double in the first, in what was her seventh multi-RBI game of the season.
- Junior Elantra Cox recorded her 24th multi-hit game of the year, just one shy of Hailey Lunderman’s record of 25 from a year ago.
Ole Miss takes on No. 15 Alabama in the SEC Tournament Semifinals at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT Friday afternoon in Knoxville. Beth Mowins (pxp), Michele Smith (analyst), Amanda Scarborough (analyst) and Holly Rowe (sideline) will have the call on ESPNU.