JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville State's freshman class made "Mee-Maw" proud Saturday.
The Gamecocks swept visiting Jacksonville University 9-4 and 7-1, and JSU's large batch of freshmen helped carry the load.
Seven of the nine freshmen played in at least one of the games, and for the day, they accounted for seven runs, four RBIs, six hits, seven stolen bases and one no-doubt home run by Anna Hood. Their mentor and mother hen, senior catcher Lex Hull, couldn't have been more pleased.
"I love our freshmen. They're amazing people, absolutely amazing people," said Hull, who is called "Mee-Maw" by the newcomers.
She appeared more proud of the freshmen and what they did to contribute to the win than her own accomplishments. She caught both games, including helping Faith Sims tie a school record with 16 strikeouts in the opener. In the second game, Hull teammed with Nicole Rodriguez (four innings) and Kirsten Titus (three innings) to limit JU to four hits and a run.
In addition, Hull had three hits and an RBI, but afterward, she prefered talking about what she's trying to accomplish with the Gamecocks' young players.
"For my part, I think the trials I've faced in the past have molded me to guide them through their struggles right now," said Hull, who spent two years at South Carolina before transferring to JSU. "That's why I'm thankful for the pain and the trials I went through in the past, either not playing, playing and in a slump, or not having the best performance when I needed to."
Hull rooms with three of the freshmen: outfielder/infielder Savannah Sudduth, pitcher Lexi Androlevich and Hood. Because of that, she also spends plenty of time around the rest of the freshmen. Last year, she roomed with pitcher Nicole Rodriguez, who was a freshman at the time.
"We're all pretty close with her," JSU third baseman Karsen Mosley said. "She's just a role model for all of us. She's always positive and she always has our back."
As for the freshmen, Sidney Wagnon had a single, an RBI and stolen base in the opener. In the second game, Mosley went 2-for-2, scored four times and stole four bases as the team totaled seven, which is the most since 2005 when detailed records have been kept.
Hannah Brown stole her first collegiate base, and Kaley Waren singled and made a shoestring catch in right field. Hood pinch-hit in the sixth inning and launched a shot over the left-center field fence. That's her first homer and broke a slump.
Hood took extra batting practice this week from assistant coach Julie Boland, but one of the players helped her, too — Hull.
"Lex always takes care of the freshmen," JSU coach Jana McGinnis said. "She's there for wisdom. They're fortunate to have her. A lot of freshmen are thrown out there to the wolves, but they've got her to take them under her wing and help them to grow."
What to know
—Amber Jones hit a grand slam in the first game, which was her first JSU homer since 2017 against Mississippi Valley State.
—Lex Jimmerson was 3-for-8 for the day with three RBIs.
—Faith Sims is now 9-1 after pitching all seven innings of the first game. Her 16 strikeouts tied Carly Kellam (2005) and Ann Shelton (1996) for the JSU record. Sims' previous high was 10.
—Hull on when she knew Sims would have a good day: "I was reading a scouting report, looking at their hitters' tendencies, and reading what their weaknesses are and what their strengths are. I looked at it and said, 'Faith is going to have a great day,' because her drop curve is so effective."
—McGinnis on why Rodriguez and Titus are always so effective when one relieves the other in the pitching circle: "They are two totally different styles of pitchers, and there's an adjustment period for most lineups with either is coming in for the other."
—Jacksonville State (15-6) will host Jacksonville (12-15) today at 1 p.m. in the final game of their three-game series.