Stephen Duke, Correspondent
The Jacksonville State softball team managed to sweep the Eastern Illinois Panthers over the weekend in a conference series. In the first two games, the Gamecocks had to rally from behind.
In the first game of the series, the Gamecocks, down 2-0, evened the score in the third when ground hits from Alexus Jimmerson and Megan Fortner enabled Savannah Sudduth and Shelby Newsome to score.
However, the Panthers appeared to have taken control again in the fourth when five runs were scored off two hits and two Gamecock errors. What appeared at the time to be the dagger was a three-run home run hit by Megan Burton, making the score 7-2.
The Gamecocks again rallied. In the fourth inning, the Gamecocks had ten batters come to the plate with six runs off of five hits, making the score 8-7. Newsome led the scoring charge off a two-run single.
Chaney Phillips pushed the Gamecocks ahead with a two-run double that went off the left field wall.
Throughout the remainder of the contest, Hannah Brown kept the Panther batters at bay, allowing only one run. Alex Howard gave her some security in the sixth inning off a pinch-hit, two-run single that went down the right field line.
Brown came in and earned the win in relief of Reagan Watkins, who in 3 and ⅔ innings surrendered six runs on four hits, striking out four and walking four others. The Gamecocks prevailed in the first game 10-8.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Panthers got off to a hot start, scoring three runs in the first inning. However, that would be all they could muster.
The Gamecocks slowly chipped away at the deficit, scoring a run in each of the first three innings before taking control in the fourth, where the Gamecocks had runs on three hits and errors from the Panthers. A sac fly from Karsen Mosley pushed the Gamecocks ahead 7-3 after the fourth inning.
The Gamecocks weren’t done yet, however. Newsome hit her first career home run in the sixth, giving JSU all it needed to win the game 8-3. In this game, Jimmerson struck out three and walked four other batters.
It was another battle on Sunday as the Gamecocks again had to rally. The Panthers got off to an early lead in the first inning. However, the Gamecocks came out strong as well.
Singles from Sudduth, Newsome and Jada Terry tied the game at 1-1. The Gamecocks took the lead when the Panthers had an error fielding an infield single from Keely Bobbit, which enabled Phillips to get across.
The Panthers briefly evened the score, but a solo home run from Jimmerson put the Gamecocks back on top, 3-2.
The game continued to go back and forth. With the game at 6-5, Alex Howard hit a walk-off, pinch-hit double to bring Mosley and Sidney Carpenter home for the 7-6 win.
This was the second walk-off hit for Howard, a local freshman from Oxford. Jimmerson won her third straight, limiting the Panthers to two runs on a single hit and three walks. She came in to relieve Nicole Rodriguez, who in the first five innings allowed four runs on six hits, striking seven EIU batters out.