Dolphins take the first step in defending A-Sun title

In the opening round of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Tournament, the Jacksonville softball team rode dominant pitching performances to a 2-1 victory over Lipscomb. 

Jacksonville did not allow the hour plus rain delay bring them down as senior pitchers Sarah Sigrest and Brittany Eppley looked sharp as ever and combined for the win and save.

“I’m really proud of our girls,” said Head Coach Ali Higgs. “Sigrest and Eppley did a great job keeping us in the game all seven innings.  Our defense was solid and our hitters put the ball in play and put the pressure on them to make plays.  Everyone contributed and it was an overall great team win.”

Sigrest (18-11) won her fourth straight game at the A-Sun Tournament as she was the winning pitcher in each of the Dolphins’ three wins en route to their title last season.  She allowed five hits and one run while striking out three in five innings of work.

Offense was hard to find for either team just like the last time Sigrest and Lipscomb’s Whitney Kiihnl faced off to combine for just two hits allowed.

The Dolphins capitalized on a few Bisons miscues in the top of the fifth to score their only runs of the game.  Melissa Morales drew a one out walk and then advanced to third after leadoff hitter Codi Kelly doubled to right center giving JU runners on second and third.  After a foul out, a wild pitch from Kiihnl allowed Morales to come in from third and break the scoreless tie.  Amanda Schmidt then hurried down the first base line and induced a wide throw from the shortstop allowing Kelly to score and put JU up 2-0.  

Lipscomb almost got one of the runs back in the bottom half of the inning.  With runners on first and second with two outs, the Bisons’ Kelsey Cartwright singled up the middle.  Kiihnl rounded third and headed towards home but was gunned down at home plate by a perfect throw from centerfielder Kayla Ouellet. 

Things got tight in the bottom of the sixth when Haley Elliot led off the inning with a solo shot to left center cutting the Dolphin lead in half.  Higgs decided it was time to bring in Eppley and the decision paid off.  After allowing a single, Eppley struck out the next batter she faced.  The Dolphins then got out of the inning with a double play as Eppley struck out the batter and Sarah Simon threw out the runner trying to advance from first base. 

The reigning Pitcher of the Week and Second Team All-Conference Eppley shut down the Lipscomb batters in the seventh with two strikeouts and a groundout. 

JU will return to action tomorrow at 12:30 pm to face the #1 seed Florida Gulf Coast Eagles.  In their two meetings this season, FGCU won both contests but JU had a lead going into the last inning of both games.