MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Jenny Jackson tossed a seven-inning perfect game and helped her own cause with her team-leading eighth home run of the season as Mount Olive defeated Coker 2-0 in game one of a Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference softball doubleheader Saturday at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. The perfect game is the first ever by a Trojan pitcher in a CVAC game. In the nightcap, the Trojans cut a three-run deficit down to two in the final inning, but Coker held on for a 3-2 victory, handing CVAC leader Mount Olive its first conference loss of the season.
Despite the loss in the nightcap, Mount Olive’s (27-10 overall, 7-1 CVAC) win in the opener puts the Trojans above last year’s entire win total with 18 regular season games remaining before next month’s CVAC Tournament.
Jackson (9-3) got through the lineup the first time around on four ground outs, two strikeouts, two infield pop-ups – both caught by Jackson – and one fly out to shallow center field. Jackson went on to strike out two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth.
The Trojans got a leadoff double by Tiffanie Pittman in the bottom of the first and had two runners in scoring position with one out in the second, but would not score their first run until the third. Pittman was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Erin Wilson and scored on Bailey Harrell’s two-out single just inside the right field line.
Jackson gave herself an insurance run with one out in the fifth, drilling a line drive home run over the left field fence for her second home run in as many games. The Trojans also had two runners on base in the fourth and sixth innings, and finished with 10 runners left on base.
But Jackson had all the run support she needed when she took the mound in the top of the seventh. After Jackson started off the inning with her eighth strikeout of the game, first baseman Jamie Pruitt caught the hardest hit ball off Jackson, a line drive by Miranda Klees down the line for the second out. Trojan catcher Kensie Cobb squeezed the ball on a foul pop-up for the final out to seal the perfect game.
Jackson retired all 21 batters she faced and threw only 76 pitches for the game, including six pitches in the sixth inning. The perfect game is the second for Trojan pitchers this season. Ashley Raynor threw a five-inning perfect game against St. Paul’s in February. Christine Ermer tossed a five-inning perfect game against Fayetteville State last year.
Cobb and Courtney Wallace had two hits apiece for Mount Olive.
In the nightcap, Trojan starter Shauna Cowdrey (8-5) retired the first eight batters she faced before Coker (25-9, 8-4) loaded the bases on two hit batsmen and an infield single. Cowdrey got out of the inning on a force out at third.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth when Jenna Beatty led off with a single, advanced to second on sacrifice and came home on a single by Klees. Katie McCauley’s two-out rbi-single gave Coker a 2-0 lead. The Cobras extended the lead to 3-0 in the sixth on Anna Lucas’ rbi-single.
Coker pitcher Shelly Catlett (8-2) held Mount Olive scoreless on four hits through six innings, but the Trojan bats woke up in the bottom of the seventh. Pruitt led off with a single to right and Morgan Whaley followed one out later with a pinch-hit single. Pittman singled up the middle to load the bases and the Trojans plated two runs when Melissa Bright’s ground ball was misplayed. But Catlett halted the rally on an infield pop-up.
Pittman and Pruitt had two hits apiece for Mount Olive, while Lucas had two hits for Coker.
Mount Olive returns to action Monday as the Trojans play host to Erskine in a CVAC doubleheader. Game time is 4 p.m. at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field. Coker travels to Barton Sunday for a CVAC doubleheader.