Awards: Most Dominant Performance
There’s the sweet taste of victory and then there’s domination. Jacksonville State won plenty of games this year, but three players gave Gamecock Illustrated its Most Dominant Performance: Tiffany Harbin’s and Casey Ackenberger’s back-to-back no-hitters on opening day and DaMarcus James’ five rushing touchdowns against Austin Peay.
Women’s Athletics: Tiffany Harbin And Casey Ackenberger
Tiffany Harbin was no stranger to no-hitters. She had thrown four before her senior season began.
She didn’t wait long to toss her fifth. Her 12-strikeout, five-inning no-hitter stole the show in JSU’s 9-0 opening day win over Northern Kentucky.
After the Gamecocks scored eight runs in the first inning and their ninth in the second, Harbin became the main attraction. She faced only 16 batters.
Not to be outdone by the staff ace, sophomore Casey Ackenberger followed Harbin’s act with a no-hitter of her own. She only struck out two, but she faced the minimum and forced nine groundouts in the Gamecocks’ 8-0 win over Mississippi Valley State. Junior Sara Boarders sealed the no-no when she drew a bases-loaded walk-off walk in the fifth inning to invoke the mercy rule. It was the first no-no of her career and not likely to be her last.
It was the first time the Gamecocks opened the season with a no-hitter and the first time they threw two in the same day at any point of the season.
Rushing for 102 yards is only average by DaMarcus James’ standard. However, rushing for a JSU record five touchdowns in against Austin Peay more than made up for it.
The junior was responsible for 30 of the Gamecocks’ 42 points in JSU’s 42-10 win over the Governors. His five rushing touchdowns, including one on a run of 40 yards, broke the school record of four that was set on the same field by Cedric Johnson in 2007 and tied the Ohio Valley Conference record.
The OVC took notice and named him the Offensive Player of the week. James went on to shatter JSU’s single season-rushing touchdown record with 29. He finished second in the nation to Towson’s Terrance West’s 41. He finished second to none as Gamecock Illustrated’s Most Dominant Performance.
If it is possible for him to improve between his junior and senior seasons, he could be poised to claim the 2015 award as well.