Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Football Update

There have been a few practices, but it's too early to tell who may be emerging and gaining playing time yet. The team will conduct a scrimmage today.

We have a few players trying to get healthy...sore shoulders, injuries treated from last year etc. As practices continue, we hope to have more information to pass on to you.

Particularly of interest this spring is quarterback play, replacing both starting safeties, and maintaining the defensive consistency that we saw last year. The defense looks like it will be just as good, with Keginald Harris stepping up at one safety position. Look for Jason Horton and Brooks Robinson to compete for the strong safety position. Don't be surprised by one or two other names that will be mentioned in that competition.

Many QB's will look to get some playing time next season. We'll see Ivory get plenty of reps this spring with the first unit.

More updates to come. Don't forget the spring game on April 10th. I'm hearing some plans to make this spring game the best one yet. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Softball game against MTSU

Ashley Eliasson delivering a pitch. (above)

I attended the JSU softball game last night. Actually, it was a double header…I missed the first game but did get to see the second game. The game was exciting, and it was great to see the team get the 5-1 win. I also got a chance to get some comments from coach Jana McGinnis on both games.

Coach McGinnis began by saying, “It was a tough loss in the first game. We just couldn’t get the big hit. We had every opportunity to win the game, so it was very frustrating. The highlight of that game was definitely (freshman) Hillary Phillips. Hillary gave us 10 innings without allowing an earned run.” With the loss, Hillary’s record goes to 4-5, but she has a great ERA at 2.17.

On the second game, Coach McGinnis told us, “We ended the night on a positive note, winning the second game. Ashley Eliasson did a great job; she only gave up two hits. We changed the batting line-up, just wanting to try some new things, and it gave us a new look.”

I thought this may have been a key point in the game. Jacksonville State was up 2-1 in the top of the third inning, MTSU was batting. With one out, and runners at first and second, Eliasson hit the batter with the pitch, loading the bases. The next batter hit a sharp grounder to third base, and Cara Longworth made a terrific defensive play to record an out without letting a run score. After some great pitches by Eliasson, and another great defensive play, the Gamecocks got out of the inning without allowing any runs. From that point on, it seemed like the team had all the confidence they needed, and added some insurance runs. Coach McGinnis told us, “Cara made a great play in the field. She has really given us a spark.”

I asked Coach McGinnis about the team, and how they compare now to the beginning of the season. “The defense and pitching are solid and consistent. The infield is really coming together, and they are all new except for Nikki (Prier). (3B was freshman Cara Longworth, SS was Tess Echols – a transfer from UGA, and 2B was Sallee Beth Burch – from Wallace State CC) They are beginning to play well together. We’ve still got to get our offense going. We have some great seniors, and I am counting on them to get us there.”

One more great play I want to mention. I don’t remember the inning, but Kaycee Crow playing Catcher threw out a runner attempting to steal second base. Great throw, and a great catch and tag by Sallee Beth Burch.

The game was exciting and a fun evening. Come out for the next home game on April 2nd against OVC opponent UT Martin.

Kaycee Crow hits her 4th home run of the season. (above)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jones throws out first pitch, JSU whups Troy!

"Hall of Famers" Jim Skidmore and Todd Jones talk before the game.

Todd Jones throws out the first pitch.

Former major league all-star Todd Jones was back at Jacksonville State for last night's game against Troy. Jones, who played for JSU before being drafted by the Houston Astros in the first round of the 1989 amatuer draft, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Todd played as a freshman in 1987, striking out 49 in just 36 innings, and a 2-1 record. In a game against Shorter College, he struck out 7 consecutive hitters, and 12 in 5 innings. In the media guide for the following season, it states "...has a great arm with live fastball and sharp overhand curve...Needs to learn how to change speeds and improve location." In his sophomore season, Jones added another 88 strikeouts in 74 innings. He was 7-4 with 1 Save. In his final season at JSU before being drafted, Jones went 6-5, and had 83 strikeouts in 73 innings.

Jones was a very successful major leaguer after his career at Jacksonville State. In 16 seasons in The Show, Jones amassed 319 Saves along with 58 wins. His career high was 42 Saves (led the league) in 2000 with the Detroit Tigers. He was named to the All-Star team that year, and came in 5th in the Cy Young Award voting. In 8 post-season games, Jones never allowed an earned run.

It was great to have Todd back to throw out the first pitch. As for the game, JSU scored 6 times in the 8th inning to win the game over Troy, 7-3! Whup Troy! We did! Jim Case's team is getting hot and will play again in Jacksonville this evening.

Jacksonville State Baseball Heating Up

Don't look now, but the Gamecocks baseball team has won 6 out of their last 7, including whupping Troy last night and series wins over Miami (Oh), Eastern Michigan and Middle Tennessee. The Gamecocks have seven regulars hitting over 300: Andrew Edge, Blake Seguin, Steve Leach, Daniel Adamson, Bert Smith, Todd Cunningham and Sam Eberle.

JSU has a chance to sweep Samford tonight after previously taking a game from them in Birmingham. Keep it going Coach Case.

Monday, March 22, 2010

One Year

Last week, during spring break, on March 18th, our little blog celebrated one year in existence. We give a big thank you to those who read it and add comments. Big thanks also to those players and coaches at JSU who have given us access to discuss the athletic programs and the people involved.

We hope to be better this next year. With spring football practice underway, we’ll look for information that you would like to know. Who are the new players making an impact? Who has to step up this year to help us get to the playoffs? We’ll do the same with baseball, softball, and other spring sports.

Keep visiting our website. Let us know what you would like to see in the blog, or who you would like to hear from. We welcome your comments. Thanks again for your support.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

25 Years Ago Yesterday

From the

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Melvin Allen sinks a buzzer shot to lift his Jacksonville State Gamecocks to an 80-79 victory over Southeast Missouri State University Indians in the NCAA Division II quarterfinal game before 2,750 fans in steamy Houck Field House; the shot wipes out an incredible performance by Southeast's Ronny Rankin, who scores 41 points, and ends the Indians' season. note: I remember this from my days on campus vividly. We had a great season and had some good intense crowds at the home games. Someone ought to do a study and figure out what we were doing then that we aren't doing now in terms of promoting student and local community interest.

I remember a local tv station had Melvin reenact the shot a few days later and it took him several tries with no one guarding him to make it. That basketball team also featured Earl Warren, a great player, that now works in development for JSU. Another player on the team was Keith McKeller who later went on to have a long NFL career with the Buffalo Bills. Those were the days.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Gamecocks Add High Quality Running Back

News reports out of South Georgia:

Murray to play at JSU: Glynn Academy running back Trent Murray will sign a grant-in-aid to play football at Jacksonville State University as a preferred walk on. Murray will be able to earn scholarship money after the season.

Murray, who was named Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year, rushed for 1,070 yards and 15ouchdowns for the Red Terrors this season.

Our comment: This seems like a great pick up for the team. Murray has been clocked at 4.4 and seems like he could be a nice contrast to bruisers Calvin Middleton, Drec Lindley and Jahron Brown. Also, we continue to hear good things about redshirt Richard Freelon. Finally, don't be surprised if a big time transfer comes our way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Conversation with Coach Jana McGinnis, Part 2

Finishing up with our conversation with Coach Jana McGinnis…(2nd part of interview that was started in yesterday's blog)

Q: Another senior is Mary Beth Ledbetter. Tell us about her.

A: Mary Beth is a local player, from Southside High School. She’s majoring in Education. She came to JSU as a walk-on and played in 49 of our 58 games her freshman year. She was awarded a scholarship the following season. She played her first three seasons at shortstop. Mary Beth is a vocal leader on the team.

Q: Now in her senior year, she has changed positions. Why did you do that?

A: Mary Beth did a fantastic job for us at shortstop. This season she is playing rightfield for us. That may sound strange at first, but I’ve seen teams do that before. A shortstop has to cover a lot of ground and have a good arm, much the same as a rightfielder. Mary Beth is doing a great job for us in rightfield, and covers the outfield as well as a centerfielder. It gives us a great advantage.

Q: Nikki Prier is a senior this year. What can you tell us about Nikki?

A: We began watching Nikki in the 9th grade. She’s from the Raleigh, NC area. Nikki is a hard worker. She may be a perfectionist. She tries for perfection in the classroom and on the softball field. She was the OVC Player of the Year last season. She’s on the National Top 50 Player of the Year Watch List this season. She’s very talented.

Q: Coach McGinnis, you’ve seen Nikki play here for 3 years plus a few games this season. What do you see from her that the Gamecock fans may not see from a distance?

A: I’ve seen Nikki improve every year. I mentioned she’s a perfectionist. Her freshman season, I would see her get down if she made an out. A perfectionist never wants to fail, but in hitting, you can be successful 3 times out of 10 and have a very good career. I’ve seen Nikki mature in that area and handle ups & downs a lot better. Nikki leads by example. She doesn’t say a lot, but she has a great work ethic. As a junior, Nikki was the calmest, most in control hitter I’ve seen.

An interesting thing came up during our conversation with Coach McGinnis. We discussed academics, and the success the softball team has seen in the classroom. The team uses “Academic Teams” to build teamwork, leadership, and most of all, to increase the team GPA. Academic Teams are groups of softball players that have a competition for the best GPA. Players study together and help each other. They become a closer team. The winning team gets to schedule practices. After this past weekend’s Buzz Classic, our team felt they played inconsistently. They set up a practice for Monday and got to the field early, and started practicing before the coaches even got there. When the coaches got there, they just sat back and watched the players practice. Coach McGinnis said our team got better that day.
Thank you Coach McGinnis for the job you are doing…and for your time to talk with us.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A conversation with Coach Jana McGinnis

We recently had an opportunity to speak with Jacksonville State’s softball coach, Jana McGinnis, about the four seniors on the team. Coach McGinnis feels this group of seniors has experienced more excitement on the field than any other group of seniors for JSU Softball. The first year they were here, the competed for the OVC Championship. The past two years, this group of ladies has won the conference. Coach McGinnis works to develop her team, both on and off the field. Academics are stressed, and the team’s GPA reflects that. We’ll cover 2 today and 2 tomorrow.

Here are some questions and answers with Coach McGinnis:

Q: You’ve got four seniors this year. Looking back at their career, from where they began to now, what do you see?
A: We want them to develop both on and off the field. We want them to be accountable and responsible. On the field, we want them to be able to look back to their freshman year and say “I just thought I was good back then”.

Q: Tell us about Chrissy O’Neal.
A: Chrissy O’Neal plays leftfield and bats leadoff. She was recruited our of Dallas, GA. We started watching her as a 10th grader. Chrissy is a go-getter, on the field and off. She’s already got her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice, and is working on her Masters now.
Chrissy bats leadoff for us, but she’s not the typical leadoff hitter. She has power and can get a lot of doubles and home runs for us. Since coming to JSU, Chrissy has developed patience and discipline as a hitter. She’s really matured. That has really helped her as the leadoff hitter.

Q: What does Chrissy bring to the team?
A: First of all, Chrissy brings a tough attitude to the team. You can see her attitude at the plate and in the field. She also shows a great example of selflessness. She is a team player. Chrissy played centerfield for us her first two years, and did a great job. Last year, we needed her to move to leftfield. She accepted the move because it was best for the team.

Q: Tell us about another senior, Hillary Downs.
A: Hillary plays centerfield for us and bats second in the lineup. She does a great job as the #2 hitter, because she handles the bat well. Depending on the situation, she can bunt or hit with power, which makes her successful. As an outfielder, Hillary has one of the best arms I’ve seen. She really helps us out in the field. Also, Hillary is a great student. She’s a marketing major.

Q: How did Hillary end up at JSU?
A: Of our four seniors, Hillary is the only one that is a junior college transfer. She played at Central Alabama Community College. When we look at potential transfers from a junior college, we look for someone with good credentials. Hillary was in the running for the Junior College Player of the Year her sophomore year. She fit in immediately and played in every game. Bringing in a player like Hillary really helps because she brings with her experience and maturity.

More to come about the JSU softball team tomorrow...

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Good Day to Be a Gamecock

Oval Jaynes slept well last night. Yesterday, JSU picked up wins in baseball, softball, mens tennis and womens tennis.

Go Gamecocks.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Softball Buzz Classic

Having no home games for about a month doesn't mean the Jacksonville State softball team isn't playing. The team leaves today to go to Woodstock, GA to take part in Georgia Tech's Buzz Classic. Playing at the Twin Creeks Softball Complex, the softball team plays 5 games in 3 days.

The first game on Friday will be against #23 Kentucky. There will be a total of 22 teams there, playing on 5 fields. Also on JSU's schedule at the Classic will be Western Kentucky, Winthrop, North Florida, and North Carolina-Greensboro.

Here's a link to the Buzz Classic website for the full schedule and results.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Perrilloux's Draft Projections

As the NFL Combine is going on this week, thought Jacksonville State's Ryan Perrilloux should be there. He's not. We went to the NFL Combine website,, to find out more about the selection process. On that website, it says:

"Participants are determined annually by a Selection Committee. The Directors of both National and BLESTO scouting services, which combined represent twenty-five NFL teams, are joined by members of various NFL player personnel departments to form the committee. The participating NFL executives can rotate on a yearly basis, and remain anonymous. ALL eligible players are reviewed and voted on by the committee members. Each athlete receiving the necessary number of votes, by position, is then extended an invitation. While it is not a perfect science, the goal of the committee is to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft."

We hope they missed the boat on Ryan. From what projections are appearing on the internet now, they did. Ryan is now listed as a potential first day draft pick on this website, where they have moved from a forecast of Free Agent, to Second Day Draft Pick, now to First Day Draft Pick. Taking a look at this link, Ryan is rated as the #10 QB in this year's draft. I happen to think he would beat at least a couple of the guys they have ranked ahead of him. This website is projecting Perrilloux as a 3rd Round Pick.

Of course, none of these website rankings are from an NFL team, they are just guesses. We'll see what happens when the draft is held next month. JSU fans are wishing the best for Ryan, and hope he gets selected by a team where he will get a shot to show what he can do on the field. Good luck, RP.