KENNESAW, Ga. – Jacksonville softball battled back from two separate rallies from Kennesaw State to earn a hard-fought 6-5 ASUN Conference victory Saturday afternoon at Bailey Park.
"We did better job of executing our offensive plan today," said Head Coach Jennifer Steele. "We worked to be aggressive in the zone early in the count. We got a good pitching performance from Alyssa [Bilodeau]. She did a nice job of competing and finding ways to get their hitters out and we made the plays behind her."
The Dolphins opened up scoring in the top of the second inning with a pair of runs after Madison Ragan stole home and Carolyn O'Neal drove in Makenzie Buss, who reached on a fielder's choice, to make it 2-0 Dolphins.
KSU took the lead in the bottom of the third on a two-out rally that saw five hits plate four runs to give the hosts a 4-2 lead.
Kira Czyrklis seemed to be the home team's hero after she led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run over the left field wall to make it 5-4 Kennesaw State.
Showing grit throughout, the Dolphins pushed two more runs across in the top of the fifth. With one out, JU got singles from Ciara Jones, Jordan Daniels, and Ragan. An Owl fielding error on Ragan's single allowed all three to advance a base and Jones scooted home to tie the game. With two outs and Dolphins on second and third, Buss drove the ball into left field to bring in Daniels and give JU a 6-5 lead.
The following two and a half innings were three up, three down for both teams, with the exception of Allie McCourt's walk and two stolen bases in the top of the seventh.
"After [KSU] scored the four runs [in the bottom of the third], give credit to the girls for sticking to the game plan, being in control of their emotions, and finding a way to compete. There was a sense of urgency and you could see it in the way they immediately responded," beamed Steele.
Ragan threw 2.2 innings and struck out two before Alyssa Bilodeau came in and tossed the remaining 4.1 innings to get the win and improve to 7-6 on the season. Bilodeau struck out three and allowed just two hits and one earned run in the win.
Kursch and Buss both went 2-for-3 at the plate, while Buss scored two and drove in one. Ragan also had two hits (2-for-4).
The Dolphins return home to the Debbie & Fred Pruitt Softball Complex Wednesday, April 19 when they play host to Savannah State for a non-conference doubleheader at 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.