MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., March 8, 2013 – James Madison softball hit six home runs on the day and outscored its opponents 21-2 as it swept both ends of a doubleheader on day one of the Chanticleer Challenge in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Friday. JMU won game one 13-0 in five innings over Middle Tennessee State before closing the day with an 8-2 win over Georgetown.
The Dukes snapped their modest two-game losing streak while improving to 11-6 on the season. MTSU dropped both games it played Friday to fall to 1-15. Georgetown went 1-1 on the day to run its record to 4-15.
In game two, sophomore right-hander Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) tossed four solid innings in the circle and went 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs to guide Madison to the win. Mooney earned the win, improving to 2-1 on the year. She allowed two runs on two hits and two walks while striking out six. Freshman left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) earned her first career save. She twirled three innings of shutout relief, giving up two hits and two walks. The rookie struck out four.
Lauren O’Leary dropped to 1-8 after taking the loss for the Hoyas. She ceded eight runs, five earned, on 12 hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
In addition to going 3-for-3 with two home runs, Mooney finished with two runs scored and three RBIs. Freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) added a 2-for-4 showing with a home run, two runs and two RBIs while Ford had a double, a walk, two steals and a run scored.
Designated player Shikara Lowe paced Georgetown offensively with a hit and a RBI in four at-bats while third baseman Jordan Hansen went 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Madison jumped ahead of Georgetown with three runs in the top of the first inning. Sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) worked a lead-off walk and moved to second on a bunt single by senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange). Heath came in to score, and Butler moved to third on a single to left field by Field. Georgetown left fielder Cristina Fletcher attempted to throw out Butler at third, but her throw was wild, allowing the fourth-year outfielder to score. The error also moved Field to third base, and she came into score on a sacrifice fly by Mooney.
Field and Mooney led off the fifth inning with back-to-back home runs to ignite a three-run inning that extended the lead to 6-0. Field turned on the first pitch of the inning and drove it out to left field for her first career home run. Mooney followed three pitches later with a solo blast to left. It was her third of the season. The inning continued with Ford getting hit by a pitch. Junior Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) entered as a pinch runner and moved to second on a single by junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt). Jeans moved up to third on a fly-out and scored on an error by the Georgetown shortstop.
The Hoyas got a pair of runs back in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases on a single and a couple of walks. Center fielder Elyse Graziano worked Georgetown’s third walk of the inning to drive in the first run before Ford struck out the next two batters. Lowe added a RBI single, but Graziano was caught rounding too far past second and was thrown out by Mooney, ending the threat.
Mooney blasted her second home run of the game to lead off the top of the seventh to make it 7-2 in the Dukes’ favor. Ford followed with a double to left, extending her hitting streak to 14 games, and came in to score on a double by senior pinch hitter Kaitlyn Barbour (Nokesville, Va./Brentsville District).
Ford’s 14-game hitting streak is tied with Heath and former shortstop Katie George (2004-07) for the longest in school history by a freshman.
The Hoyas briefly threatened the JMU lead in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs, but Ford induced a foul-out by Lowe to end the game.
In game one, the Dukes hit three more home runs, including a pair of three-run shots from Heath on their way to a five-inning win over MTSU.
The offense proved to be more than enough for JMU pitchers, sophomores Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) and Miranda Kemp (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield). The duo combined for five shutout innings, limiting the Blue Raiders to just four base runners. Kiefer earned the win to improve to 3-3. She gave up one hit and struck out three in three innings of work. Kemp pitched the final two innings in relief and allowed one hit and struck out three.
Caitlin McClure took the loss to drop to 0-5. She allowed four runs on three hits and four walks in 1 1/3 innings of work. Shelby Stinnett did not record an out in relief, but allowed four runs on three hits and a walk before giving way to Ashley Stassin. Stassin allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits and a walk in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Heath paced the Madison offense, going 2-for-4 with two home runs, six RBIs and two runs scored while Mooney went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs. Butler reached base three times, picking up two singles, a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base. Senior third baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) was also perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored.
The two home runs and six RBIs by Heath tied school single-game records for both. A two-home run performance had been done 17 times prior to Friday while the RBI mark is shared with Casey Mansfield (2009-10) who did it against Longwood in 2010.
Third baseman Kristi Marquez and shortstop Samantha Nieves each recorded a hit for MTSU. Marquez went 1-for-3 with a single while Nieves had a double in two at-bats.
The Dukes struck quickly, scoring the game’s first run in the bottom of the first. Butler bunted down the third base line for a single and moved to second on a single by Field. After a wild pitch advanced both of the runners, Mooney drove a single into center, scoring Butler.
Madison broke the game open with seven runs in the bottom of the second inning, including a pair of three-run home runs by Heath and Mooney. JMU scored its first run of the frame by loading the bases on three straight walks. After an illegal pitch scored junior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Puquoson, Va./Puquoson), Heath looked at three balls and a strike before depositing the fifth pitch of the at-bat over the center field fence. It was the sophomore’s first homer of the season and the third of her career.
The Dukes put two more runners on with a single by Butler and a walk by Field before Mooney blasted a 3-1 pitch to dead center for her second home run of the year and the 11th of her career.
Heath’s second three-run homer came in the bottom of the third and put Madison on top 11-0 over the Blue Raiders. Jeans and freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) both scored on the play. Hayes reached base with a single and Jeans relieved senior third baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) who also reached on a single.
Junior second baseman Anna Klumpp (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) capped the game for the Dukes with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth. Johnson and Sandy scored on the play after each singled to reach base.
JMU returns to action for day two of the Chanticleer Challenge on Saturday. The Dukes take on Georgetown at 10 a.m. and Middle Tennessee State at noon.
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