WOODSTOCK, Ga. – The Jacksonville State softball team's season opener at the Kennesaw State K-Club Classic will be delayed on Saturday because of Friday's winter storm that hit the southeast.
The Gamecocks were scheduled to open their 2010 season at 9 a.m. against Indiana, but tournament officials have said that the start of the tournament will be pushed back until at least lunch time. JSU has two games scheduled for Saturday, with the second pitting the Gamecocks against Wright State. Updates will be posted to www.ksuowls.com and to www.jsugamecocksports.com when made available.
Jacksonville State heads into the 2010 season fresh off of the program's most decorated campaign in 2009. The Gamecocks won the OVC's regular season crown and earned the league's first at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. From there, they won the NCAA Knoxville Regional, the school's first regional crown in any sport, and advanced to the NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional before falling to No. 3 Alabama.
JSU head coach Jana McGinnis heads into her 17th season at JSU picked to win her fourth OVC title in the last six seasons. The reigning OVC Coach of the Year has her team in 27th in both major preseason polls but will have to use a wealth of new faces in order to duplicate the success her program has grown accustomed to experiencing.
Along with her 11 newcomers, McGinnis returns six players that earned All-OVC honors a year ago, led by reigning Player of the Year Nikki Prier. A senior first baseman from Raleigh, N.C., Prier led the OVC in 2009 with a .379 batting average and ranked 10th nationally in doubles. She also led the league in RBI and total bases, while finishing second in home runs and was selected to the Top 50 Watch List for Player of the Year honors by the Amateur Softball Association.
Also back for the Gamecocks are senior outfielders Chrissy O'Neal and Hillary Downs and junior pitcher Ashley Eliasson. O'Neal was a first-team All-OVC selection a year ago after hitting .364 with 10 home runs and a league-best 49 hits, while Downs and Eliasson each earned second team-honors. Downs hit .357 with eight home runs and 15 stolen bases in her first year after transferring from Central Alabama, while Eliasson posted and 18-8 record and a 1.72 earned run average as a sophomore a year ago.
Downs was also selected to the OVC's All-Newcomer Team, one that also featured freshmen Meredith Sellers and Allison Svoboda. Sellers hit .320 in league games, while Svoboda boasted a .311 average in OVC play.