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Ole Miss' pitching dominates Kentucky in SEC Softball Tournament opener

No. 13 seed Ole Miss defeated No. 12 seed Kentucky 7-2 in the first round of the SEC Softball Tournament at Auburn Tuesday night.

Senior Paige Smith and sophomore Jalia Lassiter each hit home runs. Sophomore starting pitcher Grace Sparks went 4.2 innings, gave up three hits and allowed two earned runs.

Smith hit a solo home run with two outs in the top of the first inning and drove in another run in the third with an RBI single. Junior Lexie Brady was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded later in the third, putting the Rebels (31-24, 7-17 SEC) up 3-0. Kentucky scored two runs in the third on an error and a wild pitch. The Rebels added another run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly.

With two Kentucky (30-22, 8-16) runners on in the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs, Ole Miss turned to junior Brianna Lopez, who struck out Taylor Ebbs to end the inning. Lopez pitched 2.1 perfect innings and struck out four batters.

Ole Miss appeared to score a run in the sixth inning by way of obstruction, but the call was overturned after review when it was ruled Kentucky’s catcher was not blocking the plate. The Rebels wound up scoring later in the inning with a two-out triple from junior Angelina DeLeon.

Lassiter put the finishing touches on the victory with a two-run home run in the seventh. Lassiter and Smith led the Rebels with two RBIs each.

Ole Miss plays No. 5 seed Missouri Wednesday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.