HARRISONBURG, Va., May 4, 2012 – Freshman pitchers Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) and Reba DePriest (Apache Junction, Ariz./Skyline) each set new career-highs for strikeouts and combined to throw 11 shutout innings as the James Madison softball team swept a doubleheader over Towson at Veterans Memorial Park on Friday. JMU won game one 1-0 and took the nightcap 7-2.
The Dukes won their third straight and four of their last five to improve to 28-24 on the season and 14-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association. They clinched the second seed in next week’s CAA Championship and will face third-seeded Georgia State in the first round. Towson ran its losing streak to six games, dropping to 25-29 overall and 8-12 in conference play.
In game two, DePriest tossed four innings of no-hit, shutout relief to earn the win. She walked one and struck out a career-high eight to improve to 4-7 on the season. She relieved freshman right-hander Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) who allowed two runs on three hits and two walk in three innings pitched.
Dominique Ortega took the loss for the Tigers to drop to 4-8. She allowed six runs, four earned, on six hits and struck out two in three innings of work. Missy McCormick gave up one run on three hits and two walks while striking out two in three innings of relief.
Offensively, Madison was paced by junior first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) who went 2-for-2 with a home run, a double, a walk, three RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore third baseman Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) added two hits and a run scored while junior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) went 2-for-3 with a run, a RBI and two stolen bases.
Center fielder Erika Stasch led TU by going 2-for-3 while shortstop Hailey Balk picked up the team’s only other hit, going 1-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a RBI. First baseman Andrea Stevenson walked twice and scored a run.
Madison strung together three straight hits in the first inning to grab an early 3-0 lead. Sandy started the rally with a single up the middle and moved to second on a single through the left side by Mooney. Both runners came around to score on home run to center by Johnson. It was the junior’s third homer of the season and the 11th of her career.
The Dukes played a little small ball in the bottom of the second inning to extend the lead to 4-0. Butler led off with a single to center. She stole second and third and scored on a bunt single by freshman left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton).
Towson came back to score two runs in the top of the third. Stevenson drew a four-pitch walk to start the frame and moved to second on a groundout. Balk plated the first run with a double down the left-field line. After an infield single moved the runner to third, right fielder Brianna Jones lofted a high fly ball to center field for the sacrifice fly.
A pair of Tigers errors led to two unearned runs for JMU in the bottom of the third inning. Johnson started the rally with a double down the left-field line before being replaced by freshman pinch runner Haley Widner (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready). TU caught Widner in a rundown on a grounder in the ensuing at-bat, but a dropped throw allowed the rookie to reach third safely. Freshman shortstop Lindsey Tomasz (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport) followed by attempting a suicide squeeze, but again Towson caught Widner in a rundown. The Tigers failed to execute for a second time, dropping another throw and scoring the run from third. Butler capped the frame with a RBI groundout to second, scoring junior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) from third to make it 6-2.
A double by senior second baseman Caitlen Manning (Prince George, Va./Prince George) to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning help set the stage for Madison’s final run. She moved to third on a fly-out and scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore pinch hitter Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough).
Towson loaded the bases with one out in the top of the seventh on two errors and a walk, but DePriest struck out the last two batters to escape the jam.
In game one, Kiefer earned the win by twirling her fifth shutout of the season. She improved to 13-5 by scattering three hits and two walks while striking out a career-high 10. The rookie right-hander improved to 9-2 with 10 complete games and four shutouts in 11 games started in CAA play.
Right-hander Katie Lingmai took the tough-luck loss for Towson to drop to 13-13. She allowed one run on four hits and struck out eight in six innings pitched.
Offensively, the Dukes were led by Mooney who went 2-for-3 with a home run, a run and a RBI. Heath added a double in three trips to the plate while Tomasz added a double in two at-bats.
Three different players recorded hits for the Tigers led by second baseman Haley Stueckler who went 1-for-2 with a double and a sacrifice. Stevenson was 1-for-3 while designated player Lindsey Kent went 1-for-3 with a single.
The Dukes struck for the game’s only run on a solo home run by Mooney in the bottom of the first inning. Lingmai got two quick outs to start the game, but Mooney worked a full count before turning on the sixth pitch of the at-bat and blasting out over the fence in left-center. It was the freshman’s eighth home run of the season, the second-highest told by a freshman.
That would prove to be all the support Kiefer needed as she retired 15 of the final 17 batters she faced to earn the win. She also struck out five of the final seven outs she recorded.
JMU and Towson complete the regular season on Saturday with a 3 p.m. game at Veterans Memorial Park. Saturday’s festivities also include Senior Day recognitions for the Dukes’ two graduating seniors.
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