Ole Miss Walks Off Into Super Regionals
OXFORD, Miss.-- Kylan Becker admitted she got emotional Saturday after Ole Miss lost 2-0 to Louisiana. She didn’t want her career to end at home when the Rebels were hosting a regional.
When the sun peaked through the clouds on Sunday, Becker and the Rebels needed to win two games and weren’t going down without a fight.
“We knew that we were going to win,” Becker said. “I was a little teary-eyed after the first loss but there was no tears because I was confident that our team had it. Honestly, I think our entire team team that we were going to do this. We were battle-tested the entire season. Almost every SEC regular season game turned into a rainout and a doubleheader and we kind of just lived off that. We won so many series off the doubleheaders and we knew that we were prepared for it.”
The speedy lead-off batter finished the regional 9-for-15 with five runs scored, four stolen bases, two RBIs, two triples, a double and three free passes.
With Ole Miss designated as the visiting team for the first game, Becker led the game off with a double but was stranded on third after a ground out and two strikeouts.
It wasn’t until the top of third when the offense thunderously erupted. Freshman Mikayla Allee gave Ole Miss a 1-0 lead with a towering homer to left field. Becker reached on a throwing error and then Abbey Latham launched a moonshot that cleared the left field bleachers and the fence behind them to extend the Rebel lead to 3-0. A walk and a single put two runners on for Kaylee Horton who ripped a triple to center and increased the lead to 5-0.
Molly Jacobsen limited the Ragin’ Cajuns to one run on six hits and struck out eight in a complete-game effort and turned the ball over to Brittany Finney to take care of business in the back-end of the doubleheader.
The senior did just that. In six innings, she allowed two earned runs on five hits and struck out three.
“Every game that she’s thrown, she’s really just dominated the hitters,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Smith. “Brittany is a workhorse, she’s a warrior and when she wants the ball (you see the emotions she has out there), she’s a special individual and she’s going to be sorely missed in our program.”
Through the first four innings, Finney had a shutout. Thanks in part to Becker who made one of her routine home run robbing catches in centerfield.
“Apparently I robbed it from Kaylee (Horton),” Becker said with a grin. “I didn’t know that but we practice it every day. I really enjoy those. It’s a lot of fun. I never thought it was going to go over, to be honest, I thought I had it the whole time. Kaylee (I guess) could’ve had it before me but I jumped a little higher.”
But in the top of the fifth, two runners reached base and she was lifted for Jacobsen. Louisiana’s Raina O’Neal welcomed Jacobsen to the game with a three-run, game-tying home run.
“It wasn’t anything personal taking her out in that situation, I just felt like the matchup was going to be a little bit better,” Smith said about making the change. “Sometimes you make those decisions and have to live by them and that was one that rough for me for two innings. Did I make the right decision? But that’s why we play this game, that’s why we have a team and the players picked me up today. Not saying that I made a bad decision but maybe I should’ve stuck with Brittany there. She hadn’t given up any runs and that was her game.”
Louisiana took the lead in the sixth on a wild pitch from Jacobsen and Finney re-entered.
But it was the unconventional offense that came up clutch in the bottom of the seventh. Allee led off with a double and advanced to third on a single from Becker. Katelin Cooper, the pinch-runner for Allee, scored on a squeeze from Autumn Gillespie to tie the game at 4-4.
Gabby Alvarez singled to load the bases with one out and Horton at the plate.
“I knew my job and I needed to score the run,” Horton said while drenched in Gatorade. “I knew Kylan was on third and she’s fast so I was thinking hit the drop and pound it into the ground. It worked!”
Horton got the high hop out to shortstop and Becker crossed home plate to send Ole Miss into Super Regionals for the second time in three years which is also the second time in program history. The run also set the single-season record for runs scored.
“That was so special,” said Becker. “I left a mark here with that and I get to go down in history. It’s an amazing feeling.”