JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A fourth-inning home run from Kristen Griffith and a grand slam from Heather Roberts in the same inning helped Jacksonville softball to a 7-1 victory in the Jacksonville Invitational finale against Columbia, Sunday afternoon at Debbie & Fred Pruitt Softball Complex.
The Dolphins improve to 20-11 on the season.
"One of our goals going into today's game was to be more aggressive earlier in the count," said Head Coach Jennifer Steele. "The first two innings we were putting together great at-bats; we were hitting the ball hard."
Tied at 1-1, Griffith led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo shot to center field to break the deadlock. Blaise Brooks followed up with a single up the middle for her first career hit.
"I was trying to remind myself to stay calm," said Brooks. "I was nervous and a little tight, especially in the first at-bat, but I was able to calm myself down after that and I noticed a big difference from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. It was definitely a confidence boost."
A bunt from Ciara Jones to the left of the pitcher's circle in no-man's land and a blooper to shallow right field from Allie McCourt loaded the bases for the Dolphins. With two outs and ducks on the pond, Roberts sent a moon shot past the palm trees in left center to pad the Dolphins' lead, 6-1.
"We did a lot of damage this weekend with two outs. For Heather to follow [Baker] and pick her up to keep that rally extended was huge. The fact that it was a grand slam was the icing on the cake," beamed Steele.
Ragan and the Dolphins saw just three batters in the top of the seventh and turned a 5-4-3 double play to seal the win and sweep the weekend.
Columbia (5-13) got on the board in the top of the third inning after the leadoff Lion hit a single to center field and scooted to second on a sac bunt. A groundout with one out gave Columbia a 1-0 lead after a wild pitch allowed the Lion baserunner to take third base.
Ragan threw her second consecutive complete game to improve to 4-3 in the circle.
"[Ragan] threw well yesterday and looked sharp and I thought she could repeat that performance," said Steele. "She's a strong kid, so the rest factor isn't that big of a deal; she's in very good shape. I want to get her going and find some consistency before we start ASUN play."
Roberts finished the day 1-for-1 at the plate with two walks and four RBI, while Jones added a 2-for-3 performance with two runs scored. Baker, Ragan, and Griffith also drove in runs for the Green and White.
The Dolphins head out on a four-game road swing Thursday, March 23 for a 6:00 p.m. game at Florida International.