JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A game-winning sacrifice fly in the eighth inning of an 8-7 victory over Columbia, followed by a two-hit bid for an 8-1 win against George Mason highlighted Jacksonville softball's sweep at the 2017 Jacksonville Invitational, Saturday.
Jordan Daniels finished the day 6-for-7 at the plate and had the game-winning sacrifice fly against Columbia in game one, while Madison Ragan allowed just two hits in her third complete game of the season against George Mason to help the Dolphins start the weekend on a high note at Debbie & Fred Priutt Softball Complex.
"It's always a good day when you get two wins," said Head Coach Jennifer Steele. "Especially a come-from-behind win in game one and in dominating fashion in game two."
Tied 7-7 heading into the extra innings with freshman pitcher Seana Mora in the circle, the Dolphins (19-11) turned a stellar double play to get two quick outs.
Beginning with a Lion on second base per international tiebreaker rules, the first Columbia (5-12) batter flew out to Allie McCourt in mid-center field, who then flexed her guns and threw the base runner out at third for a double play.
"I caught the ball and I was thinking, 'I'll either get her out or not, that's fine,' but I was so hype," said McCourt. "They had that free runner and now she's out, so we've got the advantage."
"That was huge," added Steele. "[McCourt] stopped their momentum and I think that's a big reason we were able to walk off in the bottom of the inning."
Daniels caught a ball in foul territory one batter later to end the top half of the inning and send the Dolphins to the plate.
Makenzie Buss laid a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base line to move Jacqueline Hodskins, who began the half inning on second base, to third with one out. Daniels took a 3-1 pitch and crushed the ball to the green where the Lion centerfielder was waiting, but Hodskins' speed allowed her to tag up and get home for the game-winner, 8-7.
"[Daniels] worked the count, looked for a pitch she could hit, and elevated the ball enough for Jaci [Hodskins] to tag. That's something Jordan has been working on as a hitter – making sure she has mature at-bats," lauded Steele.
Columbia scored a run in the top of the first inning and two in the top of the sixth inning for a 3-0 lead; however, the Dolphins stormed back in the bottom half of the frame with seven runs on seven hits, including a two-run shot from Heather Roberts, to catapult ahead, 7-3.
The Lions clawed back in the top of the seventh after an RBI single and a Dolphin error allowed Columbia to knot the game at 7-7.
"I was really proud of our fight, coming from behind to take the lead and coming back after they tied it up, " added Steele.
McCourt finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate, with two great hustle plays to get on base. McCourt led off the bottom of the first with a bunt down the third base line for her first hit. Then, on a dribbler up the first baseline in the bottom of the third, she dove to the bag to beat out the Lion first baseman.
"I was running next to her, but she wasn't close enough to tag me," McCourt clarified. "I'm thinking she's going to dive for the bag, so I'm going to do the exact same thing. It ended up working out because she didn't really think to do that."
Later in the bottom of the sixth, McCourt led off with a single up the first baseline and used her quickness to beat the first baseman to the bag again and start the seven-hit, seven-run inning. "My job is to get on base, so I'm just thinking to lay it all on the line; I've got to get there."
vs. George Mason
Madison Ragan showed her prowess in the circle in a two-hit bid to down George Mason in game two, 8-1.
"I was trying to play loose," Ragan explained. "I didn't have a good outing on Wednesday, so I was trying to restore my coaches' confidence in me a little bit and show that I can bounce back from a bad game."
Ragan added credit to the defense and the dugout as well, "I thought we played really quick; I felt a lot of focus from all the girls."
Two runs in the bottom of the first opened up scoring for Jacksonville after Daniels doubled in Ragan and Danielle Baker. Daniels added a third RBI in the bottom of the third after a two-out blooper to no-man's land just inside right field fair territory allowed Roberts to score.
The Patriots (4-18) managed to get a run back in the top of the fourth after a triple from Sydnee Wells brought in Samantha Zaccari, who reached on a Dolphin error. However, a George Mason run couldn't slow Jacksonville's momentum as the Dolphins drove home four more runs in the bottom half of the frame to lead 7-1.
JU added its final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth after Buss doubled in Mora with two outs on the board.
Ragan improves to 3-3 in the circle with her third complete game of the season.
Daniels had a monster day at the plate for the Dolphins with a 6-for-7 performance with five RBI, a double, a stolen base, and the game-winning sac fly in game one. McCourt finished 5-for-7, including a 3-for-3 performance in game one, with two stolen bases. Roberts, (3-for-7), Ciara Jones (3-for-4), and Kursch (3-for-6) all had three hits for JU, while Baker drove in three RBI with a double and a stolen base to help the effort.
"The big difference maker for us is when we score early; it seems like we're able to score easily for the rest of the ball game. We had runners in scoring position and we got the hit in the first inning when we needed it," Steele concluded.
The Dolphins return to action tomorrow in the Jacksonville Invitational finale against Columbia at 12:00 p.m. The game will also be live streamed on ESPN3. Prior to first pitch, the Dolphins will honor senior Blaise Brooks.