The Jacksonville State softball team got another
stellar pitching performance from Tiffany
Harbin on Sunday and rode it past UT Martin 2-0 to win the 2013 Ohio
Valley Conference Championship at Williams Field.
Harbin tossed a three-hit shutout and capped a weekend that saw her throw all 499 pitches for the sixth-seeded Gamecocks (30-25) and down the fifth-seeded Skyhawks (37-20) for their fourth OVC Tournament title. Harbin was named the tournament's MVP in guiding JSU to its fifth NCAA Regional appearance in the last six seasons.
The Gamecocks will learn its regional destination and opponent later Sunday, when the 2013 NCAA Softball Championship Selection Show airs on ESPNU at 9 p.m. CDT.
Harbin, junior Hayden Crawford and seniors Kelci Johnston and Krystal Ruth were named to the All-Tournament Team. Harbin, a native of Hazel Green, Ala., snapped a streak of losses in six-straight decisions by going 4-0 in the tournament with an 0.70 earned run average and 39 strikeouts in 30.0 innings in the circle. Her shutout in the championship game was her second of the tournament.
Crawford, a native of Sparkman, Ala., went 1-for-1 with two walks on Sunday to cap a tourney that saw her go 6-for-9 at the plate with a double and two runs scored. Johnston, a Northport, Ala., native, drove in five of her team's nine runs in the tournament. She hit a solo home run in the sixth inning on Sunday, her second round tripper of the week and also doubled twice. Ruth had four hits, including a double and a run scored in the tournament. She also made a few diving plays in left field.
Harbin struck out nine UTM batters on Sunday to earn the win and made JSU the lowest seeded team to ever win the OVC Tournament.
Casey Vincent (15-9) pitched a gutsy five innings in suffering the loss. She surrendered two runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out two. Autumn Glenn allowd a hit and a walk in a scoreless inning of relief.
Both teams threatened in the third by putting runners at first and second with no outs but both pitchers worked out of trouble to keep the score knotted at 0-0.
The Gamecocks got their first hit off of Vincent to lead off the fourth but got nothing out of, and the Harbin worked around the Skyhawks' first hit in the top of the fifth to keep the game scoreless.
JSU finally dented the scoreboard in the home half of the fifth after a leadoff single from Crawford led to a sac bunt, a ground out and a Vincent wild pitch that allowed her to score and give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead.
Johnston doubled that lead in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a leadoff homer that curled around the foul pole in left. The blast gave JSU a 2-0 lead, was her second of the tournament and resulted in her 100th career RBI.
Harbin held in the seventh, working around a one-out single from Lauren Smith to seal the win.
Smith, Kayla Wade and Vincent had UTM's three hits, but Harbin allowed just three runners to advance past first base in the win.