Jags Sweep Mardi Gras Invitational

February 10, 2014 · By · Filed Under Softball 
Junior Farish Beard struck out 29 during the tournament to earn MVP honors and help lead the Jaguars to a 5-0 record to open the 2014 season. | Photo usajaguars.com

Junior Farish Beard struck out 29 during the tournament to earn MVP honors and help lead the Jaguars to a 5-0 record to open the 2014 season. | Photo usajaguars.com

The South Alabama Jaguar softball team are off to their best start in program history after a clean sweep of the Mardi Gras Invitational at Jaguar Field.

On Thursday night the Jags opened with an 8-0 win over #21 UAB in five innings after the game was called due to the mercy-rule.

On Friday, the Jaguars faced-off against Syracuse. All-American pitcher Hannah Campbell recorded 12 strikeouts as Emily Messer recorded a hit and RBI to lead the Jaguars to a 2-1 win.

After four-and-a-half scoreless innings, Messer scored the first run after she drew a walk, then advanced on Amanda Herron’s sacrifice bunt then scored when Gwen Jones reached base on a throwing error by the Orange.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Kaitlyn Griffith added the other Jaguar run after she drew a walk, advanced to second base on a Chloe Rathburn sacrifice fly then scored on Messer’s infield single.

In the top of the seventh, Syracuse’s Nicole Lundstrom hit a home run in the top of the seventh inning to cut the Jaguar lead in half. Ellie Forkin singled to put the go-ahead run on base but Campbell would force a groundout to end the game.

On Saturday, the Jaguars played two games. The first against McNeese State where they won 4-1. Griffith and Alex Breeden both went 1-for-3 against the Cowgirls, but both hits her homeruns. Griffith smashed a three-run shot in the bottom of the third inning to give the Jaguars a 3-0 lead.

Freshman Holly McKinnon made her debut against McNeese State, she struck out four through the first three innings. In the top of the fifth inning, McKinnon walked back-to-back batters then allowed Lauren Lagner to deliver an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-1.

Jaguar coach Becky Clark inserted Hannah Campbell to toss the final 2 2/3 innings in relief while striking out four, one walk and one hit to earn her first save of the season and 13th of her career.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Breeden added an insurance run with a one-out solo shot to left field.

Later on Saturday, the Jaguars faced Syracuse again after their 2-1 win the day before. The game only lasted an hour as the Jags run-ruled the Orange 8-0 in five innings.

Breeden led off the bottom of the second inning with her second solo home run of the day. Pilkington drove in freshman Amanda Minahan with a double to right center. Blair Johnson made it 4-0 with a two-run home run in left center field.

Gwen Jones was drove in after pinch-running for Clara Bowen to make it 5-0 when Pilkington drove her in with a single to left field. Later Griffith smashed her second home run of the day to drive Johnson home.

Farish Beard struck out 13, one short of her career-high. The first nine outs were strikeouts for Beard and struck out 13 of the 18 batters she faced and extended her consecutive shutout innings streak.

The Jags completed the weekend sweep with a 12-0 mercy-rule win over Austin Peay on Sunday. Kaleigh Floore made her first collegiate start on Sunday.

Seven Jaguar batters recorded hits on Sunday. Alex Breeden opened the scoring with her third home run in as many games with her two-run shot scoring freshman Chloe Rathburn to put the Jaguars up 2-0. Breeden finished the day by going 2-for-3 with four RBi and a run scored.

In the third inning, Rathburn singled with an RBI to drive in Julie Moss on a throwing error. Breeden singled again in the inning to drive in Griffith and Rathburn. Freshman Amanda Minahan would draw a walk which forced in Gwen Jones for another run. Pilkington would drive in a Messer for an RBI on a fielders choice. The final score of the inning would come on Johnson’s groundout to first base to score freshman Taylor Rodgers. The Jags led 8-0 after three innings.

In the fourth inning, Minahan tripled to right center field to drive in Rodgers and Messer. Pilkington would double to right field to score Minahan. Then the final score would come by Johnson’s single to score Pilkington for the final score of 12-0.

Beard would come in to relieve Floore and struck out six batters and extended her shutout streak to 46 innings dating back to last year’s SBC Tournament.

Four Jaguars were named to the All-Tournament team: Farish Beard, Hannah Campbell, catcher Alex Breeden and infielder Kaitlyn Griffith. Farish Beard was named the 2014 Mardi Gras Invitational Most Valuable Player.

The Jaguars will have a few days off before heading to Athens, Georgia for the Bulldog Invitational where they will face Ohio, Mercer, Furman and two games against host Georgia.

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