Stephen Duke, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State Gamecocks softball team got off to a good start in Ohio Valley Conference play this weekend, winning two out of three against the Belmont Bruins.
The Gamecocks split games on Sunday, winning the third game to win the overall weekend series.
The Gamecocks got a big win Saturday against the Bruins, winning the game 4-2. Senior Reagan Watkins pitched a no-hitter through six innings and struck out 10 batters, a career high for her. As a result of her efforts, Watkins was named OVC Softball Pitcher of the Week.
Belmont also kept the Gamecocks off the board through six innings, but the floodgates opened in the seventh inning, with JSU scoring four runs that secured a win.
Hits were scattered throughout the first six innings of the game for the Gamecocks, but both defenses played very tough.
The Bruins defense broke in the seventh with singles from Shelby Newsome, Lauren Hunt, and Savannah Sudduth got the bases loaded. The Gamecocks were able to get on the board when Keeli Bobbitt hit an infield single to second that pushed Newsome across the plate. Megan Fortner hit a sacrifice fly that got Hunt across, and a two-run single from Jada Terry sent Watkins home, giving the Gamecocks their 4-0 lead.
The Bruins still put up a fight, however. A leadoff double from Alicia Veltri, followed by singles from Kaylie Brown and Lauren Veltri, cutting into JSU’s lead, making the score 4-1. An RBI single from Audrey Lyle put the game at 4-2, with a chance for Belmont to tie it up. This is where the game would stay, giving the Gamecocks the win in their OVC opener.
Sunday’s games were part of a doubleheader. Belmont took the first game by a score of 4-3. The Gamecocks led 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, but the Bruins took the game with three-runs, two of which came off a game-clinching double by Abi Ledbetter.
Newsome hit a sacrifice fly which got the scoring going in the third inning, but Alicia Veltri had an RBI double to tie the game, Jada Terry hit a home run for the Gamecocks in the sixth, followed by an RBI single from Caroline Lively to give the Gamecocks the 3-1 advantage.
The loss for the Gamecocks in game two led to an all-important game three in which the winner would take the series. The Bruins took the lead in the second inning, but the Gamecocks surged in the fourth and fifth innings to get the win. In the fourth, RBI singles from Fortner, Hunt and Sidney Wagnon gave the Gamecocks a 3-1 lead.
The moment the Gamecocks seized continued into the fifth when Alexus Jimmerson doubled in Newsome and Karsen Mosley hit a sacrifice fly ball to make it a 5-1 JSU lead.
The Gamecocks went on to win 5-2 to take the series.
Up next for the Gamecocks is a weekend series against UT Martin. The series will begin Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. with a doubleheader Saturday starting at 1 p.m. All these games will be on ESPN+. The Gamecocks hope to keep their winning ways as they navigate their OVC farewell tour.