This weekend, the No. 22 Ole Miss Softball team welcomes No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies to Oxford for a SEC clash on the diamond.
Ole Miss (21-3) gets set to step into conference action for the first time of the season. The Rebels are coming off a convincing 10-3 win Wednesday night over Southeastern Louisiana, where senior Courtney Syrett had a career night with four RBI off four hits, and sophomore Ashton Lampton added three RBI on a triple.
Sophomore SS Ashton Lampton leads the team in HRs (6), and 14 of her 27 hits have gone for extra bases. She also leads the team with 29 RBI, good enough for 13th in the NCAA, and is 23rd nationally with 1.21 RBI per game.
No. 7 Texas A&M enters weekend play with a 22-2 mark overall and 2-1 in the SEC after taking two of three from Mississippi State last weekend. Led by Jo Evans, in her 21st season at the helm of the Aggies program, Texas A&M made it as high as No. 5 in the national polls this season after a 15-0 start, before dropping to No. 7 in this week’s polls.
The Aggies hosted two home tournaments — the Aggie Classic and Texas A&M Invitational — in their first 10 games of 2017. After 10 straight in College Station, the Aggies traveled west to the Mary Nutter Classic, where they defeated the likes of No. 1 Florida State (2-0), No. 19 Arizona State (2-1), No. 23 BYU (11-1) and No. 14 Michigan (3-0). A midweek with Houston handed Texas A&M its first loss, before the Bulldogs won last weekend’s SEC opener, 5-2 before the Aggies bounced back to claim the series. Most recently, A&M traveled to Memphis for a Tuesday afternoon contest and won by a score of 15-1.
Led by a pair of pitchers with an ERA below 0.90, the Aggies have a staff ERA of 1.16, having allowed just 26 runs in 157 innings. Samantha Show, a 2016 All-Freshman SEC selection, is 9-1 with a 0.86 ERA in nine starts and has thrown three solo shutouts and five complete games. She’s allowed just seven earned runs thus far, holding opposing hitters to a .191 average. Trinity Harrington, a transfer from Colorado State after her freshman year, has a 0.85 ERA with a 5-1 record in 33 innings. Lexi Smith is a perfect 7-0 with a 1.25 ERA in eight starts, while Payton McBride has limited time in the circle with a 1-0 record in 11 innings.
At the plate, the Aggies hold the SEC’s eighth-best batting average at .311 and are 27th nationally in scoring (6.08 runs/game) and slugging (.492). Riley Sartain leads the charge with a .435 average, which ranks 13th in the SEC. Ashley Walters (.350) has a team-best 20 RBI and nine extra-base hits, while Kristen Cuyos has slugged a team-high five home runs. Keeli Milligan is the only Aggie with double-digit steals at 12-of-13 on the year, while Kaitlin Alderink is next closest with seven steals. Defensively, Texas A&M is one of the top teams statistically ranking second in the NCAA in fielding (.986) with just nine errors committed in 24 games.
Ole Miss and Texas A&M have only faced one another 11 times since the first meeting in 1998. Last season, the Aggies swept the Rebels in all three games. Ole Miss has only defeated A&M twice in the all-time series.
Game times are set for Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Adam Brown sports editor of Hottytoddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.