ORLANDO, Fla., March 3, 2013 – Oregon scored five times in the third inning and hit four home runs in the game as it downed the James Madison softball team, 12-1, in the final game of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., Sunday.
JMU lost its second straight to a nationally-ranked program, dropping to 2-3 in the tournament and 9-6 overall. Oregon, ranked 10th in this week’s Top 25 Coaches Poll, finished unbeaten in the tournament hosted at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to improve to 19-3 on the season.
Cheridan Hawkins earned the win for the Ducks to improve to 6-1 this season. She limited Madison to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out six in 5 2/3 innings of work. Karissa Hovinga struck out two in 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief.
Freshman left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) drew the start in the circle for Madison. She took the loss after allowing 12 runs, nine earned, on 15 hits and two walks. The rookie struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings of work. Sophomore right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) retired the only batter she faced in 1/3 inning of relief.
Left fielder Alyssa Gillespie paced the OU attack, going 4-for-4 with four singles and two runs scored. Catcher Alexa Peterson added two hits, including a home run, a walk, two RBIs and a run scored while first baseman Kailee Cuico went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI.
Ford doubled in two at-bats and scored a run to lead the way for the Dukes offensively. Senior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) contributed a 1-for-1 showing with a walk and a RBI.
The Ducks used a couple of infield singles and a JMU throwing error to take the lead in the top of the third inning. Gillespie tapped a ball down the first-base line that died on the chalk for an infield single. After a strikeout, she moved to second on an infield single to third base by shortstop Courtney Ceo. Second baseman Kaylan Howard attempted to sacrifice both runners up a base, but the throw by the Dukes’ defense sailed into right field allowing Gillespie to score from third.
Oregon capitalized on the mistake by Madison, adding four more runs in the frame. Two runs came in on RBI singles by center fielder Janie Takeda and Cuico before a second JMU throwing error scored them both.
Third baseman Koral Costa laced a two-out double down the right-field line to add a run to the OU lead in the top of the fifth inning. Cuico scored on the play after reaching on a one-out single and moving to second on a walk.
The Dukes got on the board with a run in the bottom half of the inning. Ford led off the inning with a double off the fence in center. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and came in to score on a bunt single by Shinaberry.
The double by Ford extended her hitting streak to a team-season-best 12 games and broke up the no-hit bid by Hawkins.
Howard added two more runs to the Ducks’ lead with a two-run home run in the top of the sixth. Gillespie started the inning with her third infield single of the game. After the Dukes recorded a couple of outs on fielder’s choice groundouts, Howard drove a 2-2 pitch out over the fence in dead center for her sixth homer of the year.
Peterson, designated player Janelle Lindvall and third baseman Jamie Rae Sullivan capped the scoring for the Ducks with a trio of home runs in the top of the seventh inning.
JMU returns to tournament play next weekend, traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the Chanticleer Challenge hosted by Coastal Carolina. The Dukes take on Middle Tennessee State, Georgetown and Coastal Carolina in the five-game, three-day event.
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