TOWSON, Md., March 24, 2013 – Freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) recorded a two-run double and sophomore pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) tossed 2 1/3 innings of perfect relief to lead the James Madison softball team to a series sweep of Towson with a 3-1 win in the Colonial Athletic Association series finale on Sunday afternoon.
JMU ran its winning streak to five games and improved to 21-7 overall and 3-0 in the CAA. The three-game sweep is the first time in program history the Dukes have opened CAA play at 3-0. Towson dropped 15-17-1 overall and 0-3 in the league.
Freshman left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) earned the win for Madison, improving to 10-1 on the year. She pitched the first 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five. Kiefer earned her first save of the year and the third of her career by shutting down the TU attack over the final 2 1/3 innings. She retired all seven batters she faced, including two by strikeout and four by ground-out. The reigning CAA Rookie of the Year and First Team All-CAA selection has not allowed a run in her last 16 2/3 innings pitched and just one earned run over her last seven appearances.
Katie Lingmai took the loss for the Tigers to drop to 6-9. She gave up three runs on six hits in seven innings of work. The senior struck out seven and walked four.
Field sparked the JMU offense, going 1-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Senior third baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) added two singles and a RBI in three at-bats while senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) chipped in a hit, a run scored and a stolen base. The steal by Butler tied her career-high with 21 and is one shy of the school record held by Chel’sea Ryan (2007-11).
Jillian Donnelly maintained her hot hitting for the weekend. The catcher went 2-for-3 with a double while center fielder Olivia Yarbrough and second baseman Macie McGeehan each recorded a single in three trips to the plate. Shortstop Hailey Balk walked and drove in one.
The Dukes took advantage of a couple of free base runners to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) started the inning by striking out, but the ball got away from Donnelly on a wild pitch, allowing Hayes to reach safely. After a ground-out advanced the runner to second, Butler worked a walk to put two runners on base for Field. The freshman came through with a double into the gap in left-center, scoring both Hayes and Butler.
The teams traded scoreless half innings until the bottom of the fifth when Towson pushed a run across to cut the lead in half. McGeehan led off the inning with a single up the middle and pinch runner Maureen Hepner advanced to second on a wild pitch. A ground-out and a walk put runners on the corners with one out. Balk hit a chopper to shortstop and beat out the throw to first on an attempted double play, to chase home Hepner from third. Yarbrough singled to center to extend the inning and Dukes’ head coach Mickey Dean turned to Kiefer who induced a fly-out by Donnelly to escape the jam.
Madison pushed the lead back up to two in the top of the sixth on a RBI single by Johnson. Ford started the frame with a single to up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Lingmai got a ground-out in the ensuing at-bat, but Johnson came through with the two-out hit, driving in Ford with a single to left.
The Tigers never threatened again as Kiefer and her defense recorded six straight outs to end the game.
JMU returns to play next weekend as they host a three-game series with Drexel. Friday, March 29 the Dukes and Dragons play a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park. The series closes on Saturday with a single game beginning at noon.
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