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BLOG: Ole Miss softball makes first-ever NCAA Tournament, gets Tulsa in opener

The Ole Miss softball team has added to an already historic season.

The Rebels found out Sunday night they will be one of the 64 teams to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. The tournament field was announced during a selection show on ESPNU.

Ole Miss (39-20) will take on Tulsa (35-19) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Norman Regional, which also includes Wichita State (35-19) and host Oklahoma (47-4), the No. 3 national seed. All regionals are double elimination.

The winner of the Norman Regional will take on the winner of the Lafayette Regional, hosted by No. 14 national seed Louisiana-Lafayette, in a best-of-three Super Regional starting May 26. The winner will advance to the Women’s College World Series, which will be played June 2-8 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Ole Miss has won 69 games in coach Mike Smith’s first two years at the helm, including a school-record 39 this season in what’s been just the Rebels’ fourth winning campaign since 2005. The Rebels, ranked No. 27 in the RPI, also tied a school record for Southeastern Conference regular-season wins with 11, a five-game improvement in league play from the previous season.

The Rebels picked up their first-ever SEC Tournament win last week with a 4-2 upset of Georgia, the No. 16 overall seed in this year’s NCAAs, before falling 1-0 to No. 1 Florida their last time out Thursday. Ole Miss has three top-20 RPI wins in the last three weeks.

Ole Miss is led in the circle by senior Madi Osias, who is 21-8 in 33 appearances with a 2.95 earned run average. The Tustin, California native has racked up 131 strikeouts in 163 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .212 average.

The offense has been paced by freshman shortstop Hailey Lunderman, one of 10 players up for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I National Freshman of the Year. A native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Lunderman is hitting at a .372 clip with a single-season school record 73 hits, 16 RBIs and 40 runs.

See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for more on Ole Miss’ NCAA Tournament selection.