Hazel Green native splits DH at Austin Peay

Junior Tiffany Harbin struck out 21 batters over 10.1 innings in the circle on Saturday and helped the Jacksonville State softball team to a doubleheader split with Austin Peay in Ohio Valley Conference action at University Field.

Harbin, a junior from Hazel Green, Ala., fanned 13 in a two-hit shut out of the Lady Govs (10-11, 1-4 OVC) in a 6-0 win in the first game and then struck out eight in just 3.1 innings of relief work in a 4-2, eight-inning Gamecocks (17-12, 4-1 OVC) loss in the finale. She stretched streak of scoreless innings to 25 before surrendering two runs in the top of the eighth of the second game.

Her 21 strikeouts runs Harbin's season total to 147, which is already 10th on the school's single season strikeouts list, and gives her 590 for her career, just 45 away from Ann Shelton's school record of 635. So far in OVC play this season, she is 3-1 with an 0.60 earned run average and 36 strikeouts in just 23.1 innings.

The Gamecocks gave her plentry of offensive support in the first game of the day, grabbing a pair in the fourth on a two-run home run from sophomore Sara Borders to start the scoring. Borders followed a leadoff single from senior Jessica Guy with a line drive that curled around the foul pole in right and put JSU up for good.

Guy drove in another in the fifth with a two-out single that scored freshman Ella Denes, and freshman Cadi Oliver belted a three-run homer in the sixth that capped the six-run output for JSU. Guy and fellow senior Kelci Johnston each went 2-for-3 in the win, while Oliver's three RBI led the team.

Harbin cruised through the Peay line up in the first game, not allowing a runner past first until an error put runners at second and third with one out in the seventh. She sat down Mel Pavel and Shelby Norton swinging to get out of the jam and secure her fourth shutout of the season.

Peay ace Lauren de Castro took the loss in the circle, giving up six runs on eight hits in six innings of work. She struck out three and didn't issue a walk.

The runs were harder to come by in the nightcap for JSU. Morgan Brewer held JSU to just two runs on seven hits in eight innings, an outing that saw her walk two and strike out two to get the win. JSU had at least one base runner in all but two innings in the game and had runners in scoring position in five of them, but the Gamecocks couldn't push enough in to avoid the split.

Senior Hilary Phillips tossed the first 4.2 innings for JSU, giving up two runs on four hits. When a bloop single from Jessica Ryan gave the Lady Govs a 2-0 lead in the fifth, it snapped a streak of 35.0 consecutive innings in OVC play in which JSU had not allowed an earned run.

The Gamecocks mounted a rally in the sixth, getting a leadoff walk from unior Kalee Tabor and then a bunt single from sophomore Savannah Sloan to get things started. After a Johnston sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position, Oliver flew out to deep center to drive in one and bring up pinch hitter Cara Longworth.

The senior from Massillon, Ohio, connected on Brewer's 2-1 pitch and laced it down the left field line for a double that tied the game at 2-2. JSU threatened to win it in the seventh after a leadoff double from senior Krystal Ruth, but she would be stranded to set up Peay's rally in the eighth.

Harbin struck out Courtney Brower to start the eighth but four-straight singles, the last being a two-run bloop up the middle from Kayla Davidson, gave Austin Peay the deciding 4-2 advantage.

Harbin suffered the loss in relief, despite allowing just two runs on five hits in 3.1 innings of work. She struck out eight of the 10 outs she recorded, capping her overpowering day that saw her toss a total of 151 pitches, 108 for strikes.

Sloan went 2-for-4 to lead JSU at the plate, both of which were bunt singles.