Jackson, Wofford lead SA past JA
This file photo shows Starkville Academy pitcher Julianne Jackson delivering a pitch earlier this season. Jackson was the winning pitcher in SA's 6-0 win over Jackson Academy Monday. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
They're not superheroes yet, but Starkville Academy's Julianne Jackson and Bailey Wofford are becoming quite a dynamic duo.
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Jackson pitched a complete game shutout and Wofford had a pair of triples to go along with three RBIs in a 6-0 home win over Jackson Academy on Monday.
Jackson also added a pair of run-scoring ground outs for SA (13-9, 2-2).
"Bailey is one of the most consistent batters I've ever seen and she's going to find a way on base most times," said Lady Volunteers head coach Jessica Dickens. "And I don't know what to say about Julianne other than the fact that she's so consistent and she's so focused. She trusts her defense and it doesn't matter what the situation is, she's going to pitch the same way. She never changes her expression, and even if the other team gets in her head, they'd never know it."
JA (0-15, 0-4) never really got the chance to rattle Jackson on Monday, with the Lady Raiders' only real threat coming in the first.
With one out, a hit batsman, an error, and a stolen base gave the Lady Raiders runners at second and third. Jackson responded by getting a strikeout and a pop out to end the threat.
In the home half of the first, Mary Austin Barber led off with a single and scored two batters later on Wofford's first triple. Jackson followed by driving in Wofford on a grounder to second to give the Lady Vols a 2-0 advantage.
In the third, with Emily Gregory and Megan Picard on base, Wofford drove her second triple deep to the gap in left-center, scoring both runners and doubling the SA lead. Jackson again followed with a productive out, scoring Wofford on a grounder to short to make it 5-0.
Gregory capped the scoring with an RBI ground out of her own in the sixth.
As much as Dickens enjoyed seeing her team gain a big early lead, she enjoyed watching them hold onto it even more.
"We were much better defensively than we have been and we didn't give (JA) anything," said Dickens. "That's been a recurring problem for us lately. We'll have big innings and then go out in the field and give teams stuff right back. We didn't do that today."
Right fielder Megan Jones provided a big boost to the SA defense. When JA's Susanna Southern led off the fourth with a hit to the fence in right, Jones retrieved the ball and fired a perfect throw to second to nab Southern, who was trying to stretch her hit into a double.
"That was such a boost for Megan and was really great for her," said Jackson.
Adding to SA's solid defensive game was the play of an infield that consisted of a pair of seventh graders in third baseman Karlie Lockhart and Adrienne Futral. Dickens credited Lockhart and Futral's awareness to the leadership of Barber at shortstop.
"If you watch Mary Austin, she talks the whole time," said Dickens. "She's constantly directing traffic and showing great leadership out there. That helps Julianne too because all she has to worry about is pitching to the batter."
Like her coach, Jackson was quick to credit her performance and the Lady Vols' win to the play of the defense, but she also gave plenty of praise to her batterymate, Wofford.
"We rely on (Wofford) a lot and she always come through for us," said Jackson of SA's lone senior. "It's great when she's coming to the plate and it's great to know that she is behind the plate for me. She's just a great player. And her confidence behind the plate gives me the confidence to pitch to her."
Jackson, Wofford, and the Vols travel to Columbus today to face Heritage Academy at 5 p.m.