Lampton helps make history

By ROBBIE ROBERTSON,

Former Newton County standout Ashton Lampton went on one memorable ride with the Ole Miss softball team this past season.

Lampton went from starting at shortstop after the abrupt departure of Hailey Lunderman. She was eventually moved back to third base and the Lady Rebels entered the SEC Tournament as the No. 11 seed. After beating rival Mississippi State 2-1 in the SEC Tournament, the Rebels took a 2-0 win over the nation’s No. 1 seed in Florida. They followed that up with a 4-1 win over No. 15 Alabama and a 5-1 win over No. 21 LSU to claim the school’s first-ever SEC championship in softball.

The Lady Rebels rode that momentum to an NCAA Regional hosting as they ran through the Oxford Regional, beating Southern Illinois 8-0, No. 22 Arizona State 2-0 and North Carolina 7-2 for the regional title.

In the Super Regional at No. 5 national seed UCLA, the Lady Rebels’ magical run came to and end as they lost an 8-7, 11-inning classic in Game 1 and a 1-0 loss the next day.

For Lampton, it was a special time. It was also her last as a Lady Rebel. After the season, Lampton informed the Ole Miss coaching staff that she wouldn’t be returning, choosing to leave school and concentrate on her studies and hopes of coaching one day.

“It just wasn’t for me any more,” Lampton said. “I had my exit meeting about a week ago with the coaches and told them I wasn’t coming back. School is a big thing for me and I was struggling in school. It was hard keeping up with everything with the amount of time you have to commit to playing college softball. But I’m so thankful for the opportunity that I got from Ole Miss. I’m very appreciative for my two years at Ole Miss. It was very special.”

Lampton said she would be moving back to Newton County and enrolling at East Central Community College to finish her basics and then pursue an elementary education degree and hopefully become a high school coach.

Ole Miss went 43-20 overall and was 10-14 in SEC regular-season play.

Lampton ended the season hitting .238, lowest of any of the Ole Miss starters. But the sophomore led the team in RBIs with 33, home runs with six and doubles with eight. As a freshman, Lampton hit .306 with 55 starts and was second on the team with 29 RBIs and tied for the team lead in doubles with six. In the field, Lampton had a .977 fielding percentage, committing just three errors as a freshman, but that fielding percentage dropped as a sophomore to .956 with 10 errors but 141 assists.

For Lampton, it was a magic ride as the Lady Rebels shocked the softball world by winning the SEC Tournament. “We went in as the No. 11 seed but had been playing better,” Lampton said. “We struggled in SEC play and got swept in a couple of series. But everything just started to click. We knew that the State game was big, that’s the one team we don’t want to lose to. Then it was big, bad Florida. Our coach got us together and told us to just go have fun and told us we had nothing to lose. We got the timely hits when we needed them. After we beat Florida, it was like nobody could stop us. The energy from that won us the tournament.”

Then the Lady Rebels hosted a four-team regional in Oxford, another first in school history. Lampton said the crowds were the difference for her.

“It was probably the biggest crowds that we have played in front of,” Lampton said. “It was wild how loud the stadium was for those three days. That’s something we have never had before. That was special.”