May 17, 2009
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A complete game five-hitter from pitcher Ashley Eliasson and two RBIs by second baseman Courtney Underwood helped Jacksonville State (41-14) eliminate Nebraska (35-19) from the Knoxville Regional on Sunday morning at the Lee Softball Stadium, 4-1. With the triumph, JSU advances on to battle Tennessee (40-16-1) for a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals at approximately 2:30 p.m. ET.
Catcher Allie Barker went 1-for-3 at the plate with a run scored, while left fielder Chrissy O'Neal delivered two hits in four at-bats for the Gamecocks with two runs. Nebraska catcher Amanda Duran led the Husker offense with a 2-for-3 contest at the dish.
Eliasson allowed just one run on five hits with five K's in seven innings from the circle to improve to 17-7 on the season. Molly Hill (25-15) wrapped up her playing career in the Crimson and Cream by taking the loss after permitting two earned runs on four hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts in 3.1 frames.
A lead-off single through the right side of the infield from Jacksonville State left fielder Chrissy O'Neal got the Gamecocks in business in the top of the first. A sacrifice bunt and a passed ball charged to Nebraska catcher Amanda Duran allowed the runner to reach third with two retired in the frame. Designated player Kayla Collins stepped into the batter's box and laced a fly ball that threatened the gap in right center, but NU's Haley Long tracked the sphere down on the run to register the third out.
Center fielder Meghan Mullin opened the Husker half of the first with a sharp shot off the glove of diving third baseman Allison Svoboda and down the line for a lead-off double. Following a strikeout, Duran bounced to short as the ball was misplayed for an error allowing Nebraska to place runners at the corners. First baseman Crystal Carwile attempted the squeeze play, but her bunt traveled right to the circle as JSU's Ashley Eliasson corralled the ball and tossed to the plate to catch the lead runner. Second baseman Julie Brechtel lifted a routine foul ball just behind the third base bag that was caught for the third out as both teams missed a golden chance to get on the scoreboard in the opening frame.
Back-to-back singles from JSU center fielder Hillary Downs and O'Neal placed two on starting the top of the third. First baseman Nikki Prier ripped a liner but right at left fielder Darcy Rutherford for the initial retirement. Catcher Allie Barker drew a free pass off Nebraska hurler Molly Hill, loading the bases for clean-up hitter Courtney Underwood. She delivered a base knock just past shortstop and into left center for two RBIs as the Gamecocks nabbed a 2-0 lead. Designated player Kayla Collins bounced to second base as NU's Brechtel corralled the ball and fired home to nail the runner from third, preventing another JSU tally.
Duran opened the bottom of the fourth with a single just inside the third base bag and down the line. A pair of wild pitches from Eliasson allowed the runner to advance all the way to third within 60 feet from paydirt. Carwile hit a grounder sharply to short that was corralled on an outstanding diving play by JSU's Mary Beth Ledbetter, saving a score as Duran was forced to hold up at the base. Another wild offering from Eliasson allowed the runner to race across the dish, cutting Nebraska's deficit to 2-1.
The Gamecocks responded immediately in the top of the fifth with one out as Barker blasted a pitch from NU reliever Ashley Hagemann well over the wall in right center for a 3-1 advantage.
A two-out miscue on the Nebraska middle infield allowed JSU to add another tally on the scoreboard as a fielder's choice went awry at second base. O'Neal scored from third as Jacksonville State made it 4-1.
Nebraska attempted to rally in the bottom of the sixth with one out as Rutherford and Duran recorded back-to-back singles, placing a pair aboard the base paths. As the potential tying run at the dish, Carwile and Brechtel popped up harmlessly to short, however, leaving the pair stranded.
With one last chance to get back in the contest in the bottom of the seventh, designated player Jamie Gay and third baseman Heidi Foland were quickly retired for two quick outs. Right fielder Haley Long singled through the right side to keep the Huskers alive, but pinch hitter Kelli Linke struck out to end the contest and send JSU through to the championship contest.