Jaguars Win 2015 Sun Belt Conference Championship

May 11, 2015 · By · Filed Under NCAA, News, Softball, Sun Belt Conference 
Photo credit: sunbeltsports.org

Photo credit: sunbeltsports.org

The Jaguars had to play an extra game on the way to the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game, but in the end the Jags fought through and defeated the 10th ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns for the trophy.

On Friday, the Jags faced Louisiana-Lafayette in the Championship Play-In game in San Marcos, Texas. Though the Jaguars got on the board first with two runs in the top of the first inning, the Ragin’ Cajuns answered back with six unanswered runs from five home runs, the most allowed by USA since March 24, 2007 as they lost to the 10th ranked Cajuns 6-3.

The Jags, then facing an elimination game against Georgia State for the right to face the Cajuns again for the winner-take-all Championship Game played spectacularly against the Panthers.

Emily Messer got on base with a single to start the game then scored on Chloe Rathburn’s single to left field to take an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

In the fourth inning they doubled their lead after Messer tripled to center field which scored sophomore center fielder Amanda Minahan after she led off the inning with a bunt single.

USA added a third run to their total after Stephanie Pilkington hit a one-out single to center field then was brought home by Kaitlyn Griffith’s double.

In the top of the sixth inning, Georgia State loaded the bases after Farish Beard hit the leadoff hitter, followed by a Jag fielding error and a hit into shallow right field for the Panthers first and only hit of the game.

Beard responded by striking out the next batter looking, but Lauren Coleman lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score the only run for the Panthers.

Beard would then retire the Panthers in order in the top of the seventh inning to seal the game as the improved her season record to 11-4 with a complete game victory after striking out four with four walks and allowing an unearned run on one hit.

The Championship Game was a battle of two heavyweights.

Farish Beard started the contest but never recorded an out and was relieved by freshman Devin Brown after a series of illegal pitcher were called. Brown came in and only allowed five hits by the Cajuns in seven innings with a pair of strikeouts.

Through six complete innings both teams went to the final frame in a scoreless tie. However in the top of the seventh, the Jaguars began to work their magic.

Minahan drew a two-out walk followed by Blair Johnson’s 200th career hit, which was bookended by senior first baseman Amanda Herron’s walk to load the bases for pinch hitter, freshman Haleigh Lowe, who reached on a ULL fielding error which scored Minahan giving the Jaguars a 1-0 lead. Then Messer drew a bases-loaded walk to drive home Johnson to double their advantage to 2-0.

Brown would load the bases on walks in the bottom of the third inning but forced Samantha Walsh to hit a grounder back into the circle which she tossed over to first base for the final out and returning the Sun Belt Conference Championship to South Alabama.

Stephanie Pilkington went 1-for-3 on the day, Minahan was 1-for-2 with a run scored, Johnson also went 1-for-2 with a run scored which also marked her 200th career hit. Messer went 0-for-2 with an RBI after drawing a walk which scored the second run for the Jaguars.

Four Jaguars were honored with selections to the 2015 Sun Belt Conference All-Tournament Team. Farish Beard, Devin Brown, Emily Messer were all selected with Kaitlyn Griffith being named the SBC Most Outstanding Player.

2015 SBC All-Tournament Team

  • Ivie Drake, Georgia State
  • Katie Worley, Georgia State
  • Lexie Elkins, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • DJ Sanders, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Jordan Wallace, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Melanie Coyne, Louisiana-Monroe
  • Farish Beard, South Alabama
  • Devin Brown, South Alabama
  • Emily Messer, South Alabama

2015 SBC Tournament Most Outstanding Player

  • Kaitlyn Griffith, South Alabama

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