CLEARWATER, Fla., Feb. 21, 2014 – Sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) went 3-for-3 and accounted for four of the team’s five runs as the James Madison softball team downed Rutgers 5-2 in the opening game of the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., Friday.
JMU also leads No. 20/22 UL Lafayette 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning of game two. That game has been suspended due to rain and will be resumed at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
The Dukes have won five of their last six contests to improve to 6-5 on the season after today’s win over the Scarlett Knights. Rutgers saw its two-game winning streak snapped, dropping it to 3-3 on the season.
Junior pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) earned the win with her second complete game of the year and improving her to 3-3 on the season. She limited the Scarlet Knights to two runs on four hits in seven innings of work. The right-hander struck out five and walked three.
Alyssa Landrith took the loss for Rutgers, falling to 1-2. She allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits in six innings. The left-hander struck out one and walked four.
In addition to her three hits, Hayes scored two runs and drove in two more to pace the Madison attack. Senior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) added a two-run single in her only plate appearance and sophomore first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
Four players recorded hits for the Scarlet Knights. Center fielder Jackie Bates paced the offense, going 1-for-3 with a run and a RBI. Designated player Carly Todd added a hit and a RBI in three trips to the plate while second baseman Stephanie Huang was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Rutgers opened the scoring in the top of the first without the ball leaving the infield. Huang started the rally with a one-out infield single. She stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. After two walks by Kiefer loaded the bases, Bates grounded out to short, allowing Huang to race home with the opening run.
The Dukes responded with two runs in the top of the second. Hayes ignited the inning with a bunt single, sandwiched around a couple of outs. Freshman left fielder Taylor Newton (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) walked to advance Hayes to second and both runners moved up a base on a walk by freshman center fielder Niki Prince (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge). Clavin pinch hit for the Dukes and delivered a two-out, two-run single to right field.
A two-run single by Hayes in the third extended the advantage to 4-1. Freshman right fielder Tahli Moore (Sydney, Australia/Loreto Normanhurst College) and Ford came in to score on the knock after reaching on singles.
A RBI single by Todd cut the gap to 4-2 in the fourth, but the Dukes manufactured a run in the sixth to secure the 5-2 final margin. Hayes led off with a single and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. A throwing error by Huang allowed the sophomore to race home with her second run of the game.
The Scarlet Knights brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh with one out, but Kiefer escaped the jam by inducing a pair of fly-outs.
In the meeting with UL Lafayette, JMU holds a 2-0 lead on the strength of RBI singles by Newton and Prince in the top of the second. Ford has shut out the Ragin’ Cajun attack through 3 1/3 innings, using five strikeouts to keep out of trouble. She has limited her opponent to two hits and two walks, but has a runner on second with one out in the bottom of the fourth when the game resumes on Saturday.
In addition to the suspended game with UL Lafayette, JMU squares off with Illinois State (noon) and RV/RV South Florida (2:30 p.m.) in Saturday action at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
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