Gamecocks drop one-run games to Murray
The Jacksonville State softball team dug holes it couldn’t get out of on Sunday afternoon, when the Gamecocks dropped a pair of one-run Ohio Valley Conference games to Murray State at University Field.

After trailing by five runs in each game to the Racers (11-14, 5-1 OVC), the Gamecocks (17-14, 4-3 OVC) battled back before dropping the first game 7-6 and the final one 6-5.

Freshman Ella Denes went 4-for-6 on the day, while senior Krystal Ruth drove in a pair of runs in her 4-for-8 day. Junior Amanda Martinez and sophomore Sara Borders also hit .500 in the twinbill, going 3-for-6 and 2-for-4, respectively. Borders homered and drove in two runs.

In the opener, junior Tiffany Harbin suffered the loss but struck out 10 batters to make a mark in the JSU record book. Her career total increased to 600, making her just the second player in school history to hit the 600-strikeout mark. Ann Shelton set the record of 635 in the 1995-96 seasons.

In the second game of the day, junior Savanna Hennings came in to pitch in the third with the Gamecocks trailing 5-0. Against a Murray State offense that had put scored a combined 12 runs on 17 hits in the first nine innings of the day, the Springville, Ala., native held the Racers to an unearned run on just one hit in the final five innings.

In the opener, the Racers built a lead that proved just enough to dodge a Gamecock rally. Both teams got two in the first, JSU’s on a passed ball that allowed Krystal Ruth to score and the second on an RBI single from senior Kelci Johnston. The inning answered a two-run Alexa Becker homer in the top of the first and tied the score at 2-2, where it would remain until the fifth.

The Racers grabbed a pair in that fifth to take a 4-2 lead and then added three in a sixth inning that started with a Morgan Harrell solo homer and ended with a two—run single from Becker that put Murray in front 7-2.

The Gamecocks mounted a rally in the home half of the sixth, scoring four runs to cut their deficit to 7-6. Freshman Ella Denes singled in the first run and Ruth plated the second on a double in the left field gap. Jessica Guy then hit a shallow fly ball to left and, with the runners not trying to advance, left fielder Sarah Anderson launched a throw that rattled off of the backstop and allowed two runs to score.

MSU turned to CheyAnne Gaskey to pitch the seventh, and she retired JSU in order to earn her first save of the season. Shelby Kosmecki (5-9) earned the win after allowing six runs, four earned, on 10 hits in six innings of work.

Harbin suffered the loss for JSU, surrendering seven runs on 14 hits in a complete-game. She did record the 10 strikeouts and walked one batter.

Murray did the majority of its damage at the top of the order, with the Racers’ top three hitters going a combined 9-for-11. Becker drove in five runs in her 4-for-4 game.

Ruth and junior Kalee Tabor each went 2-for-4 to lead the Gamecocks at the plate.

In the second game of the day. Murray raced to a 5-0 lead by scoring two in the first and three more in the second inning. JSU had trouble getting things going until a 29-minute rain delay seemed to help jump start the Gamecock offense.

The game resumed with Amanda Martinez standing at first with no outs and Denes, Ruth and Guy rattled off three-straight singles to score one, and then a Sara Borders sac fly and a Tabor single plated runs and cut the Racers’ lead to 5-3.

Murray used two JSU errors in the fourth to get one run back, but singles from Savannah Sloan and Martinez set up a Ruth grounder that scored Sloan and made it a two-run game again.

Borders cut into the lead again in the fifth, thanks to an opposite-field home run to lead off the inning that made it a 6-5 game.

The Gamecocks had one last shot in the seventh and got a leadoff double from Johnston to put the tying run in scoring position, but a fly out to left and two ground outs ended the game.

Gaskey (6-5) threw all seven innings for the Racers to earn the win and allowed five runs on 11 hits in the process. She did strike out five JSU batters and walked two. Freshman Casey Akenberger (2-6) suffered the loss, surrendering five runs, four earned, on three hits and four walks in two innings before making way for Hennings in the third.

The Gamecocks play a non-conference game on Tuesday at Samford, with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. The game will be played at Spain Park High School, due to construction on Samford’s softball facility.
© 2013