Chris Allen Brown, Associate Editor
It hasn’t been the best start to a season for Jana McGinnis and the Jacksonville State softball team this year, but this is a program with a history of coming on when it matters most.
The Gamecocks, the preseason pick by many to win another Ohio Valley Conference championship, are off to a 7-12 start through 19 games. So far, JSU has a pair of wins over Army, one against Jacksonville University, Radford, Southern Mississippi, Lipscomb and Samford.
The win over Samford, 3-2, came on February 14th and stands as only one of two games (Gamecocks play Fort Wayne at 3 p.m. on March 7th) played at University Field so far, this season.
Despite the double-take worthy record for JSU softball, it really doesn’t mean much of anything at this point of the season.
Because you can’t win an OVC tournament playing against non-conference opponents. You can’t earn a regional tournament appearance without playing Southern Illinois University at Edwards, Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Southeast Missouri, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State, Austin Peay, Morehead State or Murray State.
Those are the most important games. The ones that determine if Jacksonville State even makes the OVC tournament. But don’t worry, they’re coming.
Just like the Gamecocks are.
JSU opens conference play with a doubleheader at UT Martin on March 24th, then jump over to Cape Girardeau, Mo., to play SEMO the next day. Five days later, a road trip to Murray, Ky., awaits.
It’s not until April 7th and 8th that JSU will play a meaningful OVC game in front of their fans at University Field when Belmont and Tennessee State come to Jacksonville.
A three-series road trip to Clarksville, Tenn., (Austin Peay), Edwardsville, Ill. (SIUE) and Charleston, Ill. (EIU) within a two-week span could separate contenders and pretenders among the conference standings.
From there, dates with Morehead State (April 28th), EKU (April 29th) and Tennessee Tech (May 4th) round out the regular season, before the OVC tournament starts in Oxford, Ala. on May 9th.
While McGinnis and her team have logged a lot of miles so far, this season, the time for throwing up your feet on the red chairs at University Field is quickly approaching.