Awards: Best Team
Five teams claimed Ohio Valley Conference championships for Jacksonville State this year. There is no doubt which OVC school reigns supreme. But, which team at JSU is the best? Gamecock Illustrated’s attempt to tackle that question ended in a tie. This year’s Best Team is Softball and Rifle.
Softball dominates the OVC every year and the rest of the conference expects it to.
The Gamecocks were picked to win the OVC’s East Division in this year’s preseason poll, and they didn’t disappoint.
Not only did they win the division, they took claim to the OVC regular season championship. It marked the sixth time in the last seven years the Gamecocks won an OVC championship. The only disappointment was not taking the OVC Tournament championship as well.
Even so, the Gamecocks had plenty to be proud of this season. Tiffany Harbin and Casey Ackenberger pitched back-to-back no-hitters on Opening Day. Head coach Jana McGinnis won her 700th career game, all at JSU. Harbin became the school’s all-time leader in wins the very next day. They finished the season 40-15 and 25-5 in the OVC.
Harbin won OVC pitcher of the year, Sara Boarders won OVC player of the year and McGinnis won OVC coach of the year. They also placed nine different players on the all-OVC teams. Harbin, Boarders, Savannah Sloan, Amanda Maldonado and Ella Denes were all named first-team. Taylor Sloan was named second-team. She was also named to the all-newcomer team along with Logan Green, Melanie Steer and Stephanie Lewis.
Softball may have been picked to win its division in the preseason poll, but Rifle was voted preseason No. 1.
While the season did not end with a national championship, it did end with another OVC title. It was their third in a row and marked the eighth time in the last nine years the Gamecocks have claimed the conference crown.
The Gamecocks finished ranked fifth in the final College Rifle Coaches Association poll. They advanced through the NCAA Sectionals and into the NCAA Championships for the fourth straight year. Unfortunately, JSU finished seventh out of eight. But the season was far from a failure.
Three Gamecocks landed on the CRCA All-America team. Sam Muegge and Samantha Bullard made the squad for the second-straight year. Cole Tucker was the third All-American.
Bullard was the OVC’s smallbore athlete of the year. She was also named to the all-OVC smallbore first-team along with Bill Harvey and Dan McCall. Muegge, Tucker and Marissa Furney were named to the second-team.
Mugge, Tucker and Brandon Muske made all-OVC air rifle first team. Bullard and Brent Brooks made the second-team. Muske was also named to the OVC air rifle all-newcomer squad.