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By DANNY P. SMITH
Pitcher Julianne Jackson and catcher Megan Aucoin have shared many laughs and smiles between the plate and the circle for the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers this season.
They enjoyed one more of those moments Thursday afternoon as the seniors led Starkville Academy to a 10-0 victory in five innings against the Central Academy Vikings.
Jackson, Aucoin, Emily Gregory, April Burney and Tori McClendon were the five Lady Vols playing their last home game on Senior Day.
"It was a good home win for these seniors to get," Starkville Academy coach Kayla Mosley said. "I'm so proud of them and the way they played. They were all solid out there."
It was a bittersweet situation for Jackson in realizing it was the last time she would step inside the circle for a home game.
"It's one of those things where you think it's never going to come, then all of a sudden, it's here," Jackson said.
Jackson and Aucoin developed that pitcher-catcher relationship even when Bailey Wofford was the main catcher for the Lady Vols last season.
"We just hit off and are really good friends," Aucoin said. "When Bailey was here, I would warm her up so we developed a chemistry even though we were just practicing. Since we are good friends, we kind of know what the other is thinking."
Jackson has been comfortable all season with Aucoin behind the plate.
"After Bailey left, I couldn't have asked for anybody better," Jackson said. "She knows what I'm going to do and sometimes even she calls the pitches. Normally she will give me a sign, or says you need to throw this one. She'll come to the mound to let me know they are hitting the inside pitch well so you need to pitch outside some."
Jackson had everything working against Central in getting the shutout. She recorded five strikeouts and only gave up two hits.
Mosley said Jackson has done a good job as the leader for Starkville Academy this season.
"She does well from the mound every single game," Mosley said. "She pitched another strong one (Thursday)."
The Lady Vols jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning to give Jackson some cushion.
Aucoin was a part of that first-inning run production with a two-run single.
"Megan has been putting the bat on the ball better in the past few games," Mosley said. "I was glad she got one to fall in today and get us some runs on the board."
Starkville Academy scored six more times in the third inning to increase its advantage to 10-0. Megan Picard had a two-run single in the frame, while Burney drove in a run with a single.
Along with the singles by Picard, Burney and Aucoin, Adrienne Futral added a pair of singles.
Jackson could sense that everyone was ready to play and do their best going into the game.
"It really showed," Jackson said. "In the first couple of innings, we put the bat on the ball. We played good defense."
The Lady Vols, who improved their record to 15-17 this season, play in the Class 3A conference tournament on Saturday. The first game is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. against Jackson Prep in the seven-team, double-elimination event.