Gamecocks Sweep Belmont to Open Final Home Series

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Thanks to a pair of pitching gems from senior Tiffany Harbin and freshman Logan Green, Jacksonville State pulled out a 3-0 win and then rolled to an 11-0 rout in a doubleheader sweep of Belmont on Saturday at University Field.

Freshman Brooke Carvey‘s pinch-hit RBI single in the sixth broke a scoreless tie in the first game and gave the Gamecocks (35-12, 19-4 Ohio Valley Conference) and Harbin the win. A walk-off grand slam from sophomore Cadi Oliver sealed an offensive onslaught in the finale, while Green kept the Bruins (12-31, 6-16 OVC) off of the scoreboard.

The wins, coupled with a Murray State sweep of SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday, catapulted the Gamecocks into sole possession of first place in the OVC race with four games remaining. The regular season champion earns the right to host the 2014 OVC Softball Championship May 7-10.

Harbin struck out eight of the first nine batters she faced en route to her 14-strikeout, two-hit shutout in the opener, continuing her dominance of OVC hitters. The Hazel Green, Ala., native improved to 15-6 on the season and ran her scoreless innings streak against league foes to 35.2 innings. She has now taken the circle in 89 innings in OVC play this year, 83 of which have been shutout frames.

She allowed just four baserunners in her 18th complete game in 22 starts this season. Her 11th shutout of the year ties North Carolina State’s Emily Weiman and Eastern Kentucky’s Leanna Pittsenbarger for the most in the nation in 2014. Her seven innings also give her 760 in her career to break Jill Wilcoxson’s school record set from 1998-01.

Belmont’s Carolyn Snodgress (1-4) matched Harbin with zeroes on the scoreboard until the sixth, when the Gamecocks finally got a big hit. That hit came from Carvey, who was making her first plate appearance since March 29. She delivered Snodgress’ 1-2 pitch into right center with two on, scoring Amanda Maldonado from second to give JSU the first lead of the afternoon.

Sophomore Ella Denes followed with an RBI single of her own and junior Sara Borders with a sac fly to stake Harbin to a 3-0 lead with just three outs left to record. Snodgress suffered the loss after allowing just three runs on nine hits and four walks in six innings in the circle. She struck out seven.

Freshman Taylor Sloan had three hits and Savannah Sloan two in the nine-hit game for JSU, while Belmont scattered its three hits among three players.

Green (11-2) also continued to impress in the circle in her first season in Gamecock red. The Hebron, Md., native allowed just three hits and didn’t issue a walk in her ninth complete game and fifth shutout of the year.

She got plenty of run support and it started early with a four-run second inning. A leadoff walk to Savannah Sloan, who then stole second, led to an RBI double from Amanda Maldonado that put JSU on the board. Maldonado scored on a fielding error by third baseman Mia Verra, and then senior Kalee Tabor went deep over the center field wall to give JSU a 4-0 lead. Tabor, a Lake Mary, Fla., native, tied Borders for the OVC lead with her 12th homer of the year.

Oliver picked up the first of seven RBI in the game with the grounder that led to the error in the third. She then plated two in the third on a single through the right side and four more on her grand slam in the fifth. The seven RBI ties for the second-most in a game in school history.

Belmont starter Taylor Moon (7-11) took the loss after allowing six runs, five earned, on five hits in 2.2 innings of work. Verra pitched the final 1.1 innings, allowing five runs on four hits and a walk.

Oliver was the lone Gamecock with multiple hits in her 2-for-3 game, one that saw eight of the nine JSU starters record at least one hit.

The Gamecocks will wrap up their regular season home schedule on Sunday, when they wrap up the three-game series with the Bruins at 1 p.m. It will be Senior Day for theJSU Softball program, which will honor its five seniors in a pregame ceremony.

(www.jsugamecocksports.com)

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