Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Softball by the numbers: 2, 500, 1,000

The Jacksonville State softball team was picked a familiar second in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason coaches poll released Wednesday.

The Gamecocks, who've finished second each of the last two years, may not be picked to win the league, but it promises to be a year of milestones nonetheless.

The program will play its 1,000th all-time game this season and coach Jana McGinnis could post her 500th victory.

The Gamecocks, who started softball in 1988, have an all-time softball record of 575-391. At the earliest, Game No. 1,000 would come in Game 34 – at home in the final game of the UT-Martin series, March 22.

McGinnis needs only 27 victories for No. 500, and if it doesn’t happen, the Gamecocks will have suffered their worst season in a number of years. The team has won at least 33 games each of the last six years.

The Gamecocks may have lost slugger Daniela Pappano, but they do return five All-OVC players among their seven returning starters and four pitchers from last year’s 35-23 team. Among the returnees is senior outfielder Rachel Flemming, who led the OVC in stolen bases last year (12), while ranking among the league’s best in hitting (.357), hits (66) and runs (42).

As for the OVC poll, the Gamecocks picked up two first-place votes and 71 points — eight shy of favored Tennessee Tech.

The Golden Eagles, who picked up the other eight first-place votes, picked up their fifth OVC regular-season title and sixth conference tournament crown last year. They also became the first OVC team since 2002 to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, beating Alabama and Cal before losing twice to the Crimson Tide.

Here’s the poll: 1. Tennessee Tech (79), 2. Jax State (71), 3. Eastern Kentucky (60), 4. Samford (58), 5. UT Martin (46), 6. Southeast Missouri (40), 7. Tennessee State (36), 8. Eastern lllinois (27), 9. Austin Peay (23), 10. Morehead State (10).

Fan Day for JSU softball is Super Bowl Sunday -- for the second year in a row -- Feb. 3. It'll run from 2-4 p.m., plenty of time to get back home to watch the big game

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