JSU Softball Wins 1st OVC Tourney Title
JSU teammates and Gadsden natives Rachel
Fleming, left, and Allie Barker embrace after Saturday’s OVC softball tournament title win. Jacksonville State University
Sports Information Photo
Special to The Times
Published May 13, 2008
Reprinted here in its entirety.
JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville State softball team powered its way to another
mercy-rule win over Tennessee Tech in Saturday’s Ohio Valley Conference
Championship Game, rol-ling to a 10-1 win and its first OVC Tournament title at
The top-seeded Gamecocks (38-14) hit four home runs and
rode a strong pitching performance from freshman Ashley Eliasson to ease past
the fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (32-30-1) and secure the school’s first NCAA
Tournament appearance since 1996.
It was the Gamecocks’ second mercy-rule
win over TTU in three days. JSU ended the game in the sixth after a three-run
walk-off home run by junior Courtney Underwood capped a five-run inning and gave
her team the deciding nine-run lead.
“Coming into this game, we thought
it was going to be a two- or three-run game,” JSU head coach Jana McGinnis said.
“Whenever you can take the bat out of their hands, you are better off. I
couldn’t be more proud of the way this team played this weekend.”
outfielder and Gaston alum Rachel Fleming, who hit .556 and had a .667 on-base
percentage while making several spectacular plays in the field over the
three-day tournament, was named the tournament’s MVP and headed a list of four
Gamecocks on the All-Tournament Team. Fleming was 2-for-3 with a home run and
three runs scored in Saturday’s championship game.
Eliasson (14-3) earned
the win in all three tournament games for the Gamecocks to join Fleming on the
All-Tournament squad. She held Tech to a run on seven hits in six innings on
Saturday, while also walking three and striking out three. Sophomore Nikki Prier
along with junior and Gadsden native Allie Barker, who each hit .400 over the
tournament, were the other two JSU players on the team.
regular-season champion Gamecocks, who have played Tennessee Tech in the finals
of the OVC Tournament in three of the last four years, earn their first trip to
the NCAA Tournament since they went as the champions of the Atlantic Sun
Conference in 1996. They traveled to Seattle, where they fell to top-ranked
Washington and Indiana.
This year, the team will play in the Tuscaloosa
Regional against Florida State at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“As a coach, I have to
admit that I have wondered if I would end my career only experiencing playing in
the NCAA Tournament just once,” McGinnis added. “I’ve seen so many teams
experience it and have even been an NCAA representative at a regional. There is
nothing like it, and you’ve got to get there to really appreciate that. I am so
excited that this team will be able to experience that, and that will hopefully
go a long way towards building a program that expects to go every
The Gamecocks got off to a good start in Saturday’s title game,
claiming a 1-0 lead in the home half of the second on a solo home run from
Barker. The shot was the team-leading 15th of the year for Barker.
tied the game in the next half inning on a solo shot from Amanda Glover, but JSU
answered in the home half of the inning with Fleming’s solo homer.
score remained 2-1 for two innings before JSU rattled off three runs on three
hits to take a 5-1 lead. O’Neal started the sixth with a two-run shot and
Underwood capped a productive weekend with her three-run walk-off
TTU freshman Maddie Schmissrauter (11-12) suffered the loss for the
Golden Eagles after allowing five runs on five hits in four and one-thirds
innings in the circle. Sarah Street got one out in relief before surrendering
five runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
Underwood, a native of
Huntsville, drove in a team-high seven runs in the tournament and hit two home
There were six JSU players who hit .333 or better over the three
days and six players combined to scatter the team’s eight home runs. The
Gamecocks boasted a .351 team batting average, while holding a 1.47 team earned
“We are so proud of this team,” McGinnis said. “It is just a
great group of girls. We have had no problems out of any of them, on the field
or off, this season, and you want good people and good teams to succeed.
“They are a good team. We don’t have one or two players that have been
the superstars. This has been a complete team effort, and I couldn’t be happier
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