Softball splits final games at Panhandle Invitational
Senior Sarah Simon
Senior Sarah Simon
A two home run performance by senior Sarah Simon helped the Jacksonville University softball team defeat Florida A&M, 4-1, Sunday at the Panhandle Invitational in JoAnne Graf Field.

Simon belted blasts in the second and fourth innings to give the Dolphins (3-1) their second win over the Lady Rattlers (0-4) this weekend. The Dolphins battled with No. 24 Florida State in the night cap, but a seven-run fifth inning helped the Seminoles (4-0) to an 8-0 win for JU’s lone loss.

“Overall, this was a great weekend,” JU head coach Ali Higgs said. “We played really well at times. There are some things we need to fix, but I am pleased with the results. We are excited to start a busy week at home Wednesday against Florida.”

Freshman Cecile Gomez (1-0) earned the win against the Lady Rattlers after allowing an unearned run on two hits and five strikeouts in 5.1 innings. Senior Dale Tillman pitched 1.2 scoreless relief frames to get the save, while freshman Taylor Rossman (0-1) took the loss in the night cap despite holding Florida State to only two hits through four innings.

Simon finished with three hits between the two games, while juniors Karson Tuck and Jacey Warner each had two hits on the day.

In the first game, Florida A&M threatened to score on Gomez in the top of the first inning.

Gomez hit the leadoff batter, but was bailed out with a double play in the next at-bat. The Lady Rattlers followed with a two walks and a double to load the bases. Gomez exited the jam with a strikeout to leave the runners stranded.

The Dolphins took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a solo homer to left field by Simon.

Warner opened the fourth inning with a single, while freshman Emily Sanchez followed with a double to advance her to third. Simon cleared the bases in the next at-bat with another homer to left field for the 4-0 advantage.

Gomez retired nine of the next 10 hitters after the first inning before allowing consecutive walks to start the fifth. She struck out Alyssa Weaver and got two pop outs to quash the threat.

In the fifth inning, Gomez allowed two one-out walks and got relieved by Tillman. The runners moved up with a steal, but the Dolphins cut the lead runner down at home in the next at-bat. An infield error helped the Lady Rattlers’ score the second runner to get on the board. Tillman got a fly out to end the inning and pitched a scoreless seventh to secure the win.

Kelly Hunter (0-4) took the loss in the circle, allowing four runs on six hits in three innings. Jennifer Lindsey pitched three scoreless frames in relief.

Against Florida State, Tiffani Brown led off with a single to left field. After stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch, Brown scored in the next at-bat on a single by Stephanie Hartness. Rossman buckled down by fanning the next three batters to end the inning.

Sanchez and Simon had consecutive singles to start the JU second inning. Seminoles starter and eventual winning pitcher Monica Perry struck out the next three batters to quash the threat.

Each team went hitless until the fifth inning when Tuck led off with a double. Sophomore Ashley Simon popped out on a bunt in the next at-bat, while Briana Hamilton threw out Tuck leaning too far off second during a fielder’s choice hit. Perry struck out the next batter to get out of the inning.

Morgan Bullock started the Florida State fifth when a triple to right field. Brown scored her in the next at-bat on a single, while Hartness and Maddie O’Brien each had consecutive doubles to extend the lead to 4-0. Kelly Hensley and Hamilton recorded two, 2-run homers later in the inning to lock up the Seminoles win.

Perry (4-0) struck out nine and scattered three innings in five innings for the victory. Rossman fanned five in 4.2 innings during her first start.

The Dolphins start a busy week at the JU Softball Complex Wednesday against No. 15 Florida. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.