For South Alabama's Olivia Lackie, It's Only The Beginning
Olivia Lackie couldn’t help but watch the video of the final out for a second time, and a third time, and who knows how many more times. It’s not every day you help your school beat an in-state softball powerhouse for the first time in school history, let alone one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
Lackie, a freshman hurler for the South Alabama Jaguars, was in the circle on March 7 when the Jags beat the Alabama Crimson Tide 1-0. The Louisiana native held Alabama to only three hits and zero walks, struck out six and only allowed one runner to reach second base.
For her performance, Lackie was named the Wilson/NFCA National Pitcher of the Week, as well as the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season. Lackie, who is now 9-3 with a 1.84 ERA and 117 strikeouts this season, credited assistant coach Hannah Campbell for preparing her for the matchup.
“We had talked about keeping my screwball really low in the zone for a strike and only coming up with my rise ball or something very out of the zone that they can’t hit,” said Lackie. “My low screwball was working very well and I was able to get them to pop up a lot on my rise ball which was also pretty effective.”
Alabama was unable to string any hits together and only threatened to score once in the fifth inning. After being down 0-2 in the count, infielder Claire Jenkins found a pitch to her liking and roped a double down the left-field line to lead off the inning. Following the double, Lackie called her catcher out to the circle.
“I had my catcher come out and talk to me and I think Kass (Kassidy Wilcox) did a really good job of calming me down and making sure that everything was okay,” said Lackie. “She kept me locked in.”
The next three batters all went down on strikeouts, one looking and two swinging, and the threat was over. Alabama would not get another runner to second or a leadoff batter on for the rest of the game.
The Jaguars mounted their threat offensively in the second inning. After two singles to put runners on first and second, junior infielder and transfer from Wright State Meredith Keel came through with a single to left, scoring what would end up being the game winning run.
Coming into the game, Alabama was batting .324 as a team, had outscored their opponents 126-23, and had six run-rule victories already on the season. In order to tame a lineup with that kind of power, Lackie also credited having a strong relationship with her catcher.
“Having a good relationship with your catcher is extremely important because you and your catcher should be able to gel and trust each other because she’s framing for you behind the plate,” Lackie said. “For her to be able to calm me down when she knew I might have gotten frustrated or upset, props to her.”
Not only did South Alabama get its first-ever win against Alabama, it was also the highest win against a ranked opponent in school history. Needless to say, it was a big day for the program.
“It almost feels surreal,” said Lackie. “I keep looking back at the video, the footage of the last batter. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.”
According to Lackie, this is only the beginning for the Jaguars, who currently sit at 13-8 on the season.
“We’ve basically proven to ourselves that we can be as good as we want to be,” Lackie added. “If we just keep working hard, great things will come our way.”