PERKINS LEADS TIGERS TO SPLIT WITH GAMECOCKS
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Freshman Tamara Perkins powered Tennessee State in the first game of the Ohio Valley Conference double header with Jacksonville State on Saturday afternoon at Tiger Field. Perkins was 3-for-4, scored three times and hit a home run, guiding the Tigers to a 6-4 victory. The Gamecocks won the night cap 5-0. TSU remains in sixth place in the OVC with a 7-10 record, 28-17 overall, and Jacksonville State stayed in third with a 10-7 conference mark, 24-17. Game one was delayed 30 minutes, as the field crew prepared the field after heavy rains hit the Nashville area overnight. Once the game started, the Gamecocks wasted no time as the first two batters reached on a single and a fielder's choice. Senior pitcher Candace Hildebrand would entice Daniella Pappano to hit a grounder to freshman short stop Bridget Metzger who would force the first runner out at third. Hildebrand would get the next two Gamecocks to ground out to third baseman Jennifer Gregory to escape the first inning unharmed. Perkins led off the bottom half of the first with a hard line drive that JSU third baseman Ciara Wesen could only reach up in time to slow it down. Sophomore Melanie Cruz followed with another hit over Wesen's head to put Tigers at first and second. After a sacrifice bunt by Gregory, Metzger grounded out to short stop to allow Perkins to come home and give TSU a 1-0 lead. Perkins would strike again as she led off the bottom of the third inning with a tape-measure home run over the left field fence. The 2-0 lead was short lived as JSU's Alana Hicks led off the fourth inning with a home run just over the centerfield fence to cut the lead in half. The Tigers retaliated in the bottom of the frame as Perkins picked up her third hit of the game with a ball through the middle of the infield that allowed senior Erin Finneran to score from second and up the lead to 3-1. Two batters later, Gregory roped a triple into right center to chase home senior Diana Clifford and Perkins, making the score 5-1. Metzger tacked on another run with a single down the left field line, bringing Gregory home and a 6-1 lead. Pappano cut the score to 6-2 with a solo home run in the fifth. The first two JSU batters of the sixth inning reached base, as junior Amanda Vaught came into relieve Hildebrand. The Gamecocks were able to get to Vaught to score the two left over runners to close with two at 6-4. The Murfreesboro native would eventually strike out the side to preserve the lead. Vaught picked up her fifth save of the season as she struck out two more batter in the seventh, giving her five in two innings of work and 204 for the season. Hildebrand (14-9) earned her school record 14th win. Game two was all Jacksonville State as pitcher Melissa Dowling (8-6) pitched a complete game four-hit shutout. Dowling struck out a season high 10 batters surrendering just one walk. JSU managed a run in the first and the fourth off Vaught to take a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning. Vaught walked the first batter in the sixth and gave up an RBI double to Alana Hicks before leaving the game in favor of Hildebrand. The Gamecocks would score two more times off the Moreno Valley, California native for the final score of 5-0. Vaught (12-7) suffered the loss pitching five innings with four strikeouts. Hildebrand worked an inning giving up two hits and an unearned run. Junior Lauren Weber pitched the seventh inning surrendering just one hit. Two teams will play the rubber match of the series on Sunday, April 15, at 1 p.m.