Sarah Sigrest entered the March 17th showdown with No. 22 Texas A&M in the USF The Game Tournament with a 7-3 record for the 15-9 Jacksonville Dolphins. The A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, Sigrest, left that contest with a one-hit complete game 3-1 victory against the ranked Aggies and the confidence both her and JU needed to cruise to a 18-2 Atlantic Sun record.
“We realized after that game how good we actually were and that is when we started to turn it around and that we could be one of the best teams in the conference,” Sigrest said of the win.
Since the victory against the Big 12 Conference foe, Sigrest stands at 25-5 on the year with an ERA below one and the Dolphins behind four A-Sun First Team All-Conference members are 42-14. The 42 wins marks a program record as does Sigrest’s 25 wins, which helped JU to their program's first top seed in the Atlantic Sun Softball Championship.
Jacksonville entered their Thursday contest with Mercer in an interesting situation since Mercer had one game under the belt – a win against Campbell – while the Dolphins hadn’t played in a game since a week prior against Stetson.
Despite the week lay-off and early-game jitters from both Jacksonville and Sigrest; which included two-straight balls and two Mercer batters reaching base in the first inning, the A-Sun Pitcher of the Year led the Dolphins to a 4-1 victory against the Bears with a four-hit complete game and moved JU two wins away from their first A-Sun Championship title.
“Sarah is a gamer and today I was interested to see if she would come out fearless and she did," stated JU Head Coach Amanda Lehotak. "She’s confident and she went right after Mercer and wasn’t afraid to get hit and she just battled. She is a competitor.”
Following a 12-win freshman campaign, Sigrest struggled with a 6-6 record and a 3.43 ERA as a sophomore, but a dedicated summer training routine developed the junior hurler turned her into the dominant pitcher in the A-Sun this season.
“She worked really hard this summer so Sarah deserves all the credit," added Lehotak, the A-Sun Coach of the Year. "I still believe the turning point for her was the win against Texas A&M because they have a tremendous hitting team and came out fearless in that game because she knew she had nothing to lose and the win allowed her to develop into the (A-Sun) Pitcher of the Year.”
With at least two games remaining in her junior season, Sigrest and Jacksonville are sure to be a force next season as well.