Rebel softball has breakthrough victory

Ole Miss knocked off Mississippi State in softball Wednesday night in Ridgeland. It was a win of significance for Ole Miss since the UM program is rebuilding and MSU is ranked in the Top 25 in the country. It also counts in the SEC standings.

RIDGELAND - The Ole Miss softball team (14-25, 2-11 SEC) used a stellar day in the circle by senior right-hander Dana Brill and junior lefty Mary Jane Callahan to down the No. 25 Mississippi State Bulldogs (30-12, 4-6 SEC) 2-1 in front of 1,354 fans in the showcase game of the 2006 M&F Fastpitch Classic.

The Rebels defeated the in-state rival Bulldogs for the second straight year at the M&F Classic to retain the title trophy. The two teams will get together for two more times this season, with a contest in Oxford on April 11 and a game in Starkville on April 26.

Brill (7-9) earned the victory by going 5 1/3 innings and allowing one run, while striking out seven. She scattered six hits and three walks in the contest.

It was Brill's 25th career win, moving her into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time Rebel charts.

Callahan recorded her first save of the season and second of her career by tossing the final 1 2/3 frames and allowing no runs and two hits, with four strikeouts.

"This was a great win for us," said Ole Miss head coach Missy Dickerson. "Our team came ready to play tonight. For whatever reason, whether it was a large crowd or an in-state rival, they were ready, and I hope we can continue to play like we did tonight. Dana pitched a great ballgame and M.J. did a good job shutting them down at the end."

Sophomore second baseman Lauren Rowe got the scoring started with a towering solo home run to lead off the second inning, her team-leading fifth blast of the year. With the 10th shot of her career, she moves into a tie for third place with Andrea Brahs (2002-04) and Brooke Turner (2002-05) on the all-time Rebel list.

The Rebels added another run in the top of the third when Callahan hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring junior outfielder Vanessa Gibbs to make it 2-0. Gibbs and sophomore outfielder Kayla Mosley hit back-to-back singles to lead off the frame.

Mississippi State cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Courtney Bures hit a ball to center field off Brill that Stacy McCommon caught and dropped onto and over the fence to make it a controversial home run. Later in the inning, Katie Johnson doubled just over first base and Lauren Rowe picked up the ball along the fence and threw out Callye Williams at home plate to preserve the Rebel lead.

Ragan Blake (16-5) suffered the loss for the Bulldogs, going the complete seven innings and allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out five Rebels.

Ole Miss moves to 12-3 in games in which it scores first and has now won three of the last four contests against Mississippi State.

This weekend the Rebels will host No. 4 Alabama in a three-game series as part of the weekend's Red-Blue activities. Saturday will pit the squads at 3 and 5 p.m., while they will play a 1 p.m. game that will be televised live on Fox Sports South Net on Sunday. It will also be Beach Day at the ballpark, and there will be complimentary hot dogs for fans in attendance.

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