OXFORD, Ala. -- Even with a Herculean rally effort late in the game, Belmont Softball was unable to recover from its early deficit and fell in the first round of the OVC Tournament on Wednesday. The No. 8 Bruins (34-21) fell to top seeded Jacksonville State (37-10), 8-5.
After a silent first inning for both teams, the Bruins were the first to strike in the top of the second frame. BU posted its first run of the day behind a two-out solo home run by sophomore Jordan Spicer (Hendersonville, Tenn.). However, the Gamecocks were able to knot the score with a solo shot of their own. In the bottom of the third Jacksonville State continued adding to its tally, using a pair of bases loaded walks and a wild pitch to add three runs. The Gamecocks kept the hits coming, adding three more runs over the bottoms of the fourth and fifth innings combined. Down but the Bruins, however, were not completely out.
In the top of the sixth inning, freshman Bailey Sims (Flowery Branch, Ga.) doubled to right center and used a ground out to move to third base. A sacrifice fly by junior Lexi Rouse (Macon, Ga.) pushed her over the plate, trimming the deficit to five runs, 7-2. Jacksonville State put across its own run in the bottom of the same but the Bruins kept pushing.
Rally was the name of the game in the top of seventh inning. Senior Kayla Wells (Bonney Lake, Wash.) reached on four balls before classmate Amy Zeronian (Pasadena, Calif.) singled through the left side. Sophomore Baylee Cook (Lewisburg, Tenn.) sent a single down the left line that saw one run score. JSU changed pitchers but the hits kept coming. Sims singled, also to the left side, to load the bases before sophomore Hayley Baker (Rockwall, Texas) smacked the ball up the middle, scoring two more runs for BU, closing the gap to three runs, 8-5. A ground out moved the remaining runners into scoring position. However, the rally was cut short with a double play that ended the game.
For the day, Sims went 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of sacrifice hits. Baker led in RBI with a total of two.
Inside the circle, freshman Brooklin Lee (Burns, Tenn.) tossed four innings and Rouse came in to close the final two innings. Lee rang up five strikeouts in the effort.
Belmont returns to action on Thursday for day two of the OVC Tournament. The Bruins will take on No. 5 Murray State beginning at 5:30 p.m. The game can be seen live on the OVC Digital Network and live stats will be available.