CLEARWATER, Fla., Feb. 22, 2013 – The James Madison softball team recorded two come-from-behind wins to open up the NFCA Leadoff Classic with a doubleheader sweep on Friday. JMU started the day with a 7-5 win over DePaul before closing things with a 4-3, eight-inning win over UC Davis.
The Dukes improved to 2-0 in the tournament and 6-1 on the season while dropping DePaul to 5-6 and UC Davis to 5-7.
Against UCD, sophomore right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) earned the complete-game victory to improve to 2-0. She allowed three runs, one earned, on eight hits and three walks while striking out one in eight innings of work.
Leah Munden took the loss for the Aggies to drop to 2-2. She gave up four runs, two earned, on nine hits in 7 1/3 innings pitched. She walked one and struck out four. Jessica Thweatt tossed 2/3 innings of perfect relief.
Sophomore designated player Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) paced the Madison offense, going 1-for-2 with a run, a RBI and a walk. Freshman first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) went 2-for-3 with a double, a run and a RBI while freshman third baseman Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) had two hits and a run scored.
Second baseman Chandler Wagner paced the UC Davis attack with a double and two RBIs in three at-bats. Designated player Kelly Schulze contributed two hits and first baseman Amy Nunez went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
The Dukes scored the game-winning run in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly. Senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) started the inning on second due to the international tiebreaker rule. She moved to third on a single through the left side by Field and scored when Mooney lifted a fly ball down the right-field line for the RBI.
UC Davis opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Back-to-back singles by left fielder Cassandra Ginnis and right fielder Jasmine Lee started the frame and Ginnis moved to third on a fly-out. She came in to score on a passed ball.
The Aggies took advantage of a JMU fielding error in the bottom of the fourth to add two runs to their lead. A lead-off single and a fielding error put runners on first and second with nobody out. The runners both moved up a base on a ground-out before Kiefer induced a comebacker for the second out. In the ensuing at-bat, Wagner jumped on a 1-0 pitch and sliced it down the right-field line for a two-run double to make it 3-0 in UC Davis’ favor.
Madison finally broke through on Munden in the top of the sixth inning, scoring three times to tie the game. Field started the rally with a one-out single and moved to second on a single by Mooney. A third single, this time by Ford brought home a run and placed two in scoring position. Senior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) hit the team’s fourth consecutive single and plated a run before an Aggie throwing error tied the game.
With JMU nursing a one-run lead in the eighth, the Aggies loaded up the bases, but Kiefer induced the game-ending ground-out to seal the win.
In the day’s opening game, JMU and DePaul combined to score 10 runs in the first inning, with Madison eventually holding on for the 7-5 win.
Mooney earned the win for the Dukes to improve to 1-1 on the season. She limited the Blue Demons to just two hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief. She struck out two of the 16 batters she faced. Ford drew the start and pitched the first 2 1/3 innings. She ceded five runs, three earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out two.
Kristen Verdun took the loss for DePaul to drop to 3-4. She gave up seven runs, two earned, on seven hits. The left-hander walked one and struck out three.
Field ignited the Dukes’ offense by going 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs. Sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) added a hit and a run scored while senior third baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) had a run scored and a RBI.
Outfielder Paige Peterson went 3-for-3 with two RBIs to pace the Blue Demons and first baseman Megan Coronado went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run. Verdun and second baseman Allie Braden each had a double and a run scored in four at-bats.
DePaul had a 4-0 lead after just a half inning of play, capitalizing on a couple of JMU miscues to take the lead. Left fielder Samantha Dodd reached on an error to lead off the game and moved to third on a double by Braden. After a ground-out and a walk, the Dukes gave up a run on a passed ball. Another walk loaded the bases up again and this time a wild pitch chased home a run to make it 2-0. An infield single by Peterson and another Madison fielding error increased the advantage to 4-0 before JMU worked out of the inning.
The Dukes bats came out hot in the bottom of the first to strike back for six runs. Heath reached on a fielding error to start the half inning and moved to second on a ground-out. She scored on a double to center field by Field who then scored on back-to-back singles by Mooney and Ford. Shinaberry was hit by a pitch to load up the bases before another hit-by-pitch, this time by Johnson, drove in a run. DePaul’s second fielding error of the game, scored two more for the Dukes and Johnson completed the frame by stealing home on a throw down to second on a steal attempt by junior right fielder Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough).
The Blue Demons cut the lead in half in the top of the third inning on three hits. Verdun led off the inning with a double down the line in right. After a pop-out, she moved to third on a single by Megan Coronado and scored on a single to right by Peterson.
Madison pushed the lead back up to two in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Field. Clayton led off with a single to center. Junior pinch runner Anna Klumpp (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) stole second and moved to third on an infield single. After another stolen base, Field lifted a fly ball into left-center, allowing Klumpp to race home with the insurance run.
Mooney took care of the rest for JMU by retiring the last six batters she faced and eight of the final nine. JMU turned two key double plays in the late innings to hold on to its advantage.
The Dukes return to play on Saturday with two more games in the NFCA Leadoff Classic. They take on Indiana at 10:30 a.m. followed by a showdown with No. 17 South Florida at 3:30 p.m.
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