Cougars Settle for Split at Jacksonville State
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Sunday's 1 p.m. game will decide the series as SIUE and Jacksonville State each took one game of Saturday's Ohio Valley Conference softball doubleheader at University Field.
SIUE won the series opener 2-1 for its fifth straight victory. Jacksonville State rallied for a 9-8 win in the nightcap. SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery said the Cougars have to keep putting themselves in a position to win whether it's tomorrow or the rest of the season.
"We hit the ball well today, but we came up short in the second game," she said.
The Cougars, now 18-22 overall and 10-9 in the OVC, pounded out 24 hits in the doubleheader against the Gamecocks. SIUE's Alex McDavid, who had the only RBI in game one, finished the day 5 for 7.
"She's a hitter," said Montgomery. "As a freshman, Alex is starting to get a little smarter about the counts she needs to have to get RBIs."
SIUE scored both of its runs in game one during the second inning as SIUE hurler Amanda Lambrecht outdueled Jacksonville State's Tiffany Harbin.
Cougar first baseman Whitney Davis led off the third with the Cougars down 1-0. She opened the inning by ripping a double to right field. The Cougars would load the bases on a pair of infield hits by Lindsey Barron and Jill Rakers. Chelsea Yankolovich popped up on the infield for the first out, but McDavid delivered an RBI single that scored Davis. Barron, however, would be thrown out at home on the play.
SIUE would score on the next at bat as Taylor Tooley hit a grounder to JSU shortshop Kristin Graham whose throw to second for the forceout was off-line, allowing Rakers to score an unearned run.
Lambrecht, 14-9, held Jacksonville State to just three hits in the first game while striking out three. The Cougar right-hander also got the starting nod in game two.
"Amanda threw well and had command in the first game," Montgomery said.
Jacksonville State and SIUE turned it into the battle of the long ball in the nightcap.
After the Cougars jumped on the board first with a single tally, Graham made it 4-1 with one swing of the bat in the second inning. Her grand slam was her eighth home run of the season.
"After they scored the four runs in the second, I thought Amanda got tougher. She did a nice job," said Montgomery.
McDavid helped the Cougars tie the game in the top of the fourth with her third home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field.
The Gamecocks, 22-22 overall and 16-7 in the OVC, regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI by Sara Borders. JSU's Abbey Stepp made it 6-4 in the fifth with her 10th home run of the season, a solo round-tripper.
SIUE cut the lead to 6-5 in the sixth when Davis singled, stole second, advanced to third on a single by Barron, and scored on an outfield error on Barron's single.
Rachel Coonrod got the call in the top of the seventh to take what could have been SIUE's final out. With two runners on and two outs, Coonrod launched SIUE into the lead with a three-run homer, her second of the season.
"That was a big deal for Rachel to give us the home run that put us in the lead," Montgomery said. However, Jacksonville State didn't let Coonrod's clutch play be the game winner.
The Gamecocks showed why it leads the OVC with 51 home runs this season in the bottom of the seventh. After a pair of runners reached base, Kaycee Crow hit a walk-off home run to left field.
Harbin, who was the third pitcher of the game for Jacksonville State, picked up the win with 2 2/3 of relief that included giving up four runs on five hits. She now holds a 12-6 record.