#14 Ole Miss Softball 2018 Preview

Ole Miss Rebels
Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #7 SEC
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Ole Miss surged on to the national women’s college softball landscape in 2017 in a big way as they won 43 games, won the SEC Conference Tournament and went on a great run to Super Regionals. It was the mix of playing an exciting brand of softball and a group of players that played with unbridled passion and joy as a unit in 2017. Head Coach Mike Smith has been steadily building up this Rebels program during his tenure and now they won’t quite be able to sneak up on anyone in 2018. So it is going to be intriguing to see how Ole Miss responds to having a little more of a target on their back this season.
2017: 43-20, 10-14
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Smith
Key Departed Players:
Miranda Strother, OF, .312 BA, 3 HR, 32 RBI, 25 SB
Alyssa Gonzalez, IF, .290 BA, 4 HR, 32 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Elantra Cox, OF, .429 BA, 0 HR, 14 RBI, 25 SB
Kylan Becker, OF, .375 BA, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 16 SB
Paige McKinney, IF, .288 BA, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 16 SB
Kaylee Horton, UTIL, .270 BA, 0 HR, 11 RBI
Dylinn Stancil, IF, .256 BA, 3 HR, 23 RBI
Kaitlin Lee, P, 1.82 ERA, 23-11 W-L, 249.2 IP, 37 BB, 118 SO
Morgan Bruce, P, 2.85 ERA, 8-5 W-L, 73.2 IP, 34 BB, 33 SO
Elantra Cox and Kylan Becker will set the tone offensively for the Rebels in 2018 as they can hit for a high average and are electric on the basepaths. Cox and Becker combined for 41 stolen bases and are candidates to hit at least .400 this season. Kaitlin Lee and Morgan Bruce will anchor things in the circle for Ole Miss this season. Lee and Bruce are going to have to take even more of a leadership role with the pitchers as there is a new pitching coach in Ashley Chastain, who comes to Oxford from Michigan State. Lee will also be the ace as she was outstanding, especially in the postseason, and always seemed to rise to the occasion to get a big out in critical spots. Bruce will need to get more balance with her walk to strikeout ration in 2018 as she walked 34 batters last season, while striking out 33. Overall, the schedule sets up nicely for the Rebels as they will get their shot against WCWS caliber teams like Oregon in mid-February down in Puerto Vallarta. The conference schedule will have road tests at Texas A&M and Alabama, but Ole Miss does not have to play Florida and Kentucky as part of the rotation of teams they will miss during SEC play. Look for another strong season from the Rebels as they will peak by May, but they will have a few extra challenges this year as being the hunted instead of the hunter.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Madness 2018 Draft Rankings:
#15 Kaitlin Lee