Vying for first-ever NCAA tourney bid, Ole Miss softball awaits word

Published 6:04 am Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Ole Miss softball team is hoping to make history tonight.

The Rebels will find out if they will be part of this year’s NCAA Tournament when the 64-team field is announced at 9 p.m. It would be the first time in program history for the Rebels to participate in the tournament should they make it.

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The team is encouraging fans to attend a watch party it has scheduled at that time at Buffalo Wild Wings, a sign of the news it’s expecting. The selection show will be televised on ESPNU.

Ole Miss (39-20) has put together just its fourth winning season since 2005, the last two coming in back-to-back seasons under second-year coach Mike Smith. The Rebels, who sit at No. 27 in the NCAA’s latest RPI rankings, set a single-season school record for wins and also tied the school record for Southeastern Conference wins in a season with 11.

The Rebels, as the ninth seed, won their first-ever SEC Tournament game last week with a 4-2 upset of No. 15 Georgia — their third top-20 RPI victory in as many weeks — before being eliminated with a 1-0 loss to No. 1 Florida.

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, who’s 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, recording a single-season school record 73 hits, 16 RBIs and 40 runs.