JACKSONVILLE— If anyone on the Jacksonville State roster most deserved to score the game-winning run on Sunday, it might have been fifth-year senior Keeli Bobbitt.
During a three-game weekend in Eastern Kentucky, Bobbitt had four hits, stole a pair of bases, threw a run and played on Gold Glove-level center field. Additionally, his basic heads-up running game allowed him to score the game-ending run on wild pitch in Sunday’s 1-0 win.
But she made a minor running error at second base in the second inning on Sunday that could have cost JSU a scoring chance.
“I don’t know if it’s the gods of softball or anything. It’s just the way softball is,” said smiling JSU coach Jana McGinnis. “Keeli blamed herself for the error on second base. Is it appropriate that she got away with it in the last inning and her hit was the one that put us in position to win on wild pitch? So, it’s a bit of redemption for her.”
In the second inning, with Bobbitt at second base with one out, teammate Karsen Mosley hit a shot that shortstop EKU looked ready to reach and grab. But he sailed just over his glove and fell into the outfield, but instead of heading for third base, Bobbitt had already turned to return to second and avoid the double play.
Never mind. Bobbitt had another chance in the bottom of the seventh to make the difference. At third base with two outs and JSU’s Megan Fortner at bat, Bobbitt saw EKU pitcher Lauren Narvaez rebound on a breakup pitch that EKU catcher Mattira Morales couldn’t corral.
“As soon as I saw him walk away from her, I thought I was going to try and make it happen,” Bobbitt said.
Morales found the ball and threw it to Narvaez at home plate, but Bobbitt was too quick.
“It was really good,” Bobbitt said. “I really wanted to score for my team, and I wanted to get this win today. We did it, and everyone worked together really hard and made it happen.”
It capped off a day in which JSU had plenty of base runners but couldn’t cash in until the final run. The Gamecocks had seven hits and four walks, and the seventh inning was the fourth time Sunday they’d put two runners on base in one inning.
In the final inning, Bobbitt reached an out on a hit that EKU couldn’t catch cleanly. She moved up to third when Sidney Wagnon lined up a shot over the center fielder’s head which, unfortunately, bounced over the fence for a base double. As the ball bounced, Bobbitt circled third base.
JSU pitcher Kat Carter (12-8) kept EKU off the scoreboard all the way, throwing a two hit with four walks. She had trouble in the second inning when EKU opened with a pair of hits and a walk to load the bases with no outs. Carter responded by striking out Morales, then EKU’s Miranda Lopez hit a stand-in to third baseman Karsen Mosley, who caught the ball and took third to double the runner and end the inning.
From there, Carter didn’t allow another hit. She continued with her sixth shutout of the year.
“There are certain shots, certain plays that can change your whole game, and I think the big play, coming off loaded bases, that’s what made the difference for her,” McGinnis said. “It just raised her level, and she seemed in control the whole time.”
Saturday against EKU, Carter threw a three-hit shutout, and Sarah Currie followed with a one-hit shutout.
It’s the first time since 2016 that JSU has had three shutouts in one weekend. That year, in a Morehead State sweep, Whitney Gillespie threw a no-hitter and a two-hitter, and Taylor West threw a six-hitter. That’s a total of eight hits, which Carter and Currie overcame by giving up six this weekend.
What there is to know
—JSU (23-15, 7-5 ASUN) is tied for first in the league’s West Division. Central Arkansas is also 7-5 in ASUN, while Northern Alabama is 6-6. Liberty (28-12, 12-0) leads the East Division.
—Mosley went 2 for 4 and finished the three-game series 5 for 11.
—Lindsey Richardson went 1 for 2 but walked away when she tried to stretch a doubles single and rolled her ankle at second base. She finished the weekend 5 for 8.
—Camryn McLemore was 0 for 1 with two walks. She was 2 for 7 for the weekend.
—Narvaez (3-4) went 6⅔ innings Sunday and allowed just one run. On Saturday, she pitched 5⅔ innings in relief and allowed two runs.
—Bobbitt on the fight the Gamecocks showed on Sunday: “I feel like we fought every round. Even though some things didn’t go our way, we just knew we had each other’s backs and that we were going to win this baseball game.”
—McGinnis on Bobbitt criticizes herself for base run error: “She probably dwells on her base run. I’m not, because I dwell on our win. Keeli is a great base runner . That’s what she brings to our game. . She just sort of lost the ball. It happens, but I bet it won’t happen again.”
—McGinnis on EKU comes back strong after being shut out twice Saturday: “We knew the coaches and the Eastern Kentucky program, they’re going to come back and show us more fight. They’re going to be better. They’re going to be more zoned , and they were. I give credit to the pitcher (Narvaez). She threw us off balance. She kept the ball low, and she didn’t allow us to string together a lot of back-to-backs. Her composure and control was very good.”
—JSU will play a doubles at Lipscomb on Saturday at 4 p.m. and a single on Sunday at 1 p.m.