Even on Harrison Central's rather crowded trophy shelf, Kailtlin Lee can still find the memories from not long ago. She reflects on the 2014 Class 6A State Championship trophy, the first of three-straight for the Red Rebelettes.
"Lots of tough running, tough practices, tough games," Lee remembers. "A lot of great memories."
Who would have thought the scrappy, 5'6" pitcher from Harrison Central, and later, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, would one day lead the greatest postseason run in Ole Miss softball history?
"Of course no one saw it coming," Lee said. "I mean, we didn't see ourselves shooting off that much, that soon. It's awesome, it's unreal."
After going just 10-14 in regular season conference play, the 8th-seeded Rebels faced a tall mountain to climb in the SEC tournament. But then? A funny thing happened. Ole Miss won. Then, they won again. And again. And again.
Behind Lee's incredible 440 pitches over the span of four days, the Rebels knocked off LSU to win their first-ever SEC Tournament Championship, with the Gulfport native taking home Tournament M-V-P honors.
"I like to call myself the Energizer Bunny," Lee joked about her performance. "I never stop. It honestly wasn't that tough, if anything it was more mentally tough than physically tough."
Lee's heroics caught the nation by storm. As Ole Miss hosted their first-ever NCAA Tournament Regional, Lee continued to throw every single pitch. She continued her heroics into the program's first super regional appearance, taking UCLA to eleven innings in game one.
"We have a sign in our hitting facility that says play like an underdog," Lee said. "That's been our mentality all year, I'd say, is to keep playing like an underdog."
Falling in two games in the Los Angeles Super Regional, the clock finally struck twelve for the Cinde-Rebels. However, that only gives the self-proclaimed "energizer bunny" even more motivation for next year.
"Ole Miss is the underdog," Lee said. "At the end of the day, we still are. We're still not completely on the radar. I think people think 'oh, they just got hot at the end of the season,' but we're gonna come in hot and we're gonna stay hot."
It was a season of firsts for Ole Miss - first SEC Tournament Championship, first time hosting an NCAA Regional, and first Super Regional appearance - all thanks largely in part to the 5'6" pitcher from Gulfport who once tore through hitters at Harrison Central and Perk.
"The impacts that these programs have had on me, they've made me who I am," Lee said of her experiences at Harrison Central and MGCCC. "They made me love to play for my state (and) for my hometown. I love representing Harrison Central and Perk and Mississippi as a whole."
Lee has one year of eligibility left with Ole Miss. When her playing days are over, she hopes to return to Harrison Central to coach future Red Rebelettes.
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