HARRISONBURG, Va., April 13, 2013 – Sophomore pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) tossed a three-hit shutout in game two and freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) had three hits in the opener to lead the James Madison softball team to a Colonial Athletic Association doubleheader sweep over George Mason at Veterans Memorial Park on Saturday. JMU earned a 3-2 win in game one and claimed the nightcap, 4-0.
The Dukes moved into sole possession of first place in the CAA at 11-0 and have now won 15 straight games in conference play. They improved to 30-10 on the season after winning six of their last seven. The Patriots dropped to 12-29 and 2-9 in the league.
Kiefer improved to 10-5 on the season after earning the win in game two. She twirled her third shutout and ninth complete game of the season, holding the Patriots to just three hits while striking out two and walking none. The sophomore retired 11 of the final 13 batters she faced and only allowed two runners to advance past first base all game.
Christina Gabriele pitched well, but took the loss for Mason, dropping to 3-8. She gave up four runs, all of which were unearned, on one hit and two walks in 3 2/3 innings of work. Casey Herring allowed two hits and struck out one in 2 1/3 innings of relief.
Freshman first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) reached base three times to lead the JMU attack, recording a double, a walk, a hit-by-pitch and scoring once. Senior designated player Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) went 1-for-1 with a hit-by-pitch and a run scored while sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) had a hit and a RBI in three at-bats.
Gabriele paced the Mason offense with a double in her only trip to the plate. Second baseman Lauren McColgan and first baseman Reagan Doiron each went 1-for-3 with a single.
JMU did not record a hit in the second, but ended the frame with a 1-0 lead. Ford drew a one-out walk, but was retired on a fielder’s choice. After a hit-by-pitch advanced junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) to second base, senior third baseman Haley Johnson’s (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) chopper to the left side was bobbled and Sandy raced around third with the go-ahead run
The Dukes scored three more unearned runs in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 4-0. Ford was hit by a pitch and moved to second as Shinaberry picked up the Dukes’ first hit of the game. Johnson again put the ball in play with two outs, lofting a fly ball down the line in right that was dropped by the Mason right fielder, allowing Ford to score from second. A walk by junior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) loaded up the bases and forced GMU coach Joe Verbanic to go to his bullpen. Heath beat out an infield single in the ensuing at-bat for an RBI before a wild pitch brought home Johnson to cap the frame.
Kiefer hit a batter in the sixth and ceded a one-out single in the seventh, but never faced a series threat as she held off Mason for the win.
The starting pitchers in game one limited their opponents to just two earned runs in 12 innings pitched, but six combined errors led to three unearned runs as JMU held on for the 3-2 win.
Jailyn Ford went the distance in the circle for JMU to earn the win. She improved to 16-2 after holding GMU to two runs, one earned, on three hits and a walk while striking out four.
Anna Blessing took the loss for the Patriots, dropping to 1-6. She gave up three runs, but just one earned, on 10 hits in five innings of work. The right-hander struck out one and walked two. Herring walked one and struck out one in an inning of relief.
Field paced the JMU offense, going 3-for-3 with a double while Heath had a double as part of a 2-for-3 performance. Ford added a home run, a walk and two runs scored and Sandy had two hits and a walk in three trips to the plate.
Second baseman Brooke Blankenship led the Mason attack, going 1-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and a run while McColgan and catcher Angela Maioran each went 1-for-3.
The bottom of the second inning got off to a promising start for JMU with Ford and junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) drawing walks to start the frame. Madison attempted a double steal in the ensuing at-bat, but Mason threw out both runners to erase the threat. Senior designated player Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) followed by reaching second on a dropped fly ball and scored on a double to center by Johnson.
Ford led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run to left-center to extend the lead to 2-0. It was the freshman’s 10th homer of the year, tying Julia Dominguez’s (2006-09) rookie record.
The Patriots came back to tie the score in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer by Blankenship. Left fielder Megan Blank reached ahead of Blankenship on a fielding error and came around to score as the GMU shortstop hammered a 1-1 pitch out to left for her third homer of the season.
Madison reclaimed the lead with an unearned run in the bottom half of the sixth. Ford reached second on a two-base throwing error to initiate the inning. She moved up to third on an infield single by Sandy and came in to score the go-ahead run on Blankenship’s second error of the inning.
Mason put the tying run on base in the seventh on a fielding error and advanced the pinch runner to second, but was left stranded as JMU held on for the 3-2 win.
The Dukes and Patriots conclude their series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park.
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