After eighteen games on the road to start the season, the Jacksonville State softball team finally got to return home and play at University Field which underwent offseason renovations for the second year in a row making it the one of the nicest venues in the OVC and throughout the region.
JSU didn’t disappoint the strong crowd that welcomed the Gamecocks home as they knocked off a Ball State team that won 40 games a year ago.
The night was tabbed a “White-Out” as the Gamecocks encouraged fans to wear white. The players themselves wore white jerseys and white pants.
Tiffant Harbin started in the circle for Jacksonville State (14-5) and would eventually toss a complete game accounting for the win, but not without some tough spots. Out of the gate the Cardinals had a pair of runners on base in scoring position, but Harbin was able to work out of that jam to keep Ball State (12-5) off the scoreboard early.
As Harbin continued to put up zeros, the Cardinals’ pitching wasn’t giving anything either. The two teams were scoreless after three innings.
Kalee Tabor led off the bottom of the fourth for Jax State with a single past the short stop. She advanced to second when Cadi Oliver walked. Savannah Sloan next attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but the first baseman fielded the ball and couldn’t make an out when the Cardinals failed to cover first base.
With the bases load and no outs coach Jana McGinnis placed freshman Jamie McGuire in to pinch hit for Amanda Maldonado.
The move paid off as McGuire singled to left to score Tabor for the go-ahead run. JSU would add another run on Stephanie Lewis’ grounder that plated Oliver.
Ball State responded with the top of the fifth loading the bases with no outs. The Cardinals were able to score four before Harbin could get out of the inning and took a 4-2 lead.
The Gamecocks fought back again in the bottom half of the inning not leaving any runs on the bases. After Taylor Sloan walked, Sara Borders’ seventh home run of the season tied the game 4-4.
Tabor would later walk and Savannah Sloan reached on a bunt hit to put two more runners aboard. The bases were again cleared when Maldonado went deep for a three-run blast that put the Gamecocks ahead for good.
Harbin shut the Cardinals down in the top of the sixth and then seventh to lock down the victory. Ella Denes provided an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a solo home run that led to the final score 8-4.
The Gamecocks stay at home for the next two weeks. They open Ohio Vallet Conference play this weekend with a series against Tennessee Tech and then meet in-state foe UAB for a single game next Tuesday.