Alabama is looking for a big win over the Ole Miss Rebels in Friday's conference opener. The Tide will carry the momentum they gained from a series win versus the number five Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns into Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide have won 23 consecutive games versus the Rebels, but Ole Miss has a new head coach who has injected much-needed energy into the program. Mike Smith, formerly the head coach at McNeese State University, has led an extremely young Ole Miss team to a 13-5 record that could be much better had the Rebels not had 5 games cancelled due to bad weather.
The Rebels are young and hungry and look to prove their worth against the Crimson Tide. Sophomore Miranda Strother leads Ole Miss offensively. Strother is batting .518 on the season with 29 total hits and 14 RBI. The Rebels' pitching staff is anchored by another Sophomore. Emily Gaitan has thrown half of the Rebels' 120 innings this season and has earned 8 wins to only one loss. Gaitan has an ERA of 1.40 and 54 strikeouts to go along with her excellent record. The biggest question for the Rebels will be if they have the depth to compete with one of the nation's best teams.
Alabama's leaders should be familiar to the Crimson Tide faithful by now, as they consistently produce at the highest level. Sophomore Sydney Littlejohn is the pitching staff's ace. Littlejohn sports a perfect 7-0 record to go along with a 1.03 ERA. Junior Haylie McCleney leads the team offensively, batting at a .518 clip. McCleney drove in the game winning run in last Sunday's rubber match versus the ULL. McCleney is as consistent as they come offensively. She utilizes her speed on the basepaths as a perfect complement to her high-contact approach at the plate.
The Tide have proven their depth of pitching so far this season. Freshman Alexis Osario has come on strong this season with a team-leading 53 strikeouts. Senior Leslie Jury has turned into a reliable option for Alabama coach Patrick Murphy and leads the team with nine appearances inside the circle. Saturday is Jury's senior day, part of a special tradition the Tide have to honor senior players.
Alabama looks to continue their dominance versus the Rebels Friday at 5 p.m. CT. The Tide boasts a 54-2 all-time record against Ole Miss. Friday's game was moved up to 5 p.m. from 6:30 p.m. due to projected cold weather. Saturday's game will be at 2 p.m. CT, while Sunday's game will start at 1:30 p.m. CT. All games will be broadcast online at WatchESPN's SEC Network +. Tickets can be purchased online here or at the gate prior to the game.