TOWSON, Md., March 23, 2013 – Sophomore right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) and freshman left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) combined to limit opposing hitters to three hits and just one earned run over 14 innings of work to guide the James Madison softball team to a pair of wins over Towson on the opening day of Colonial Athletic Association play, Saturday. JMU won game one 5-2 before shutting out TU, 6-0, in game two.
The Dukes have won four straight and 11 of their last 12 to improve to 20-7 overall and 2-0 in the CAA. Towson has lost four of five, dropping to 15-16-1 on the year and 0-2 in league play.
In addition to a pair of dominating performances in the circle, JMU hit four home runs on the day and finished with five extra-base hits. Sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) paced the Madison attack with two solo homers, adding four RBIs.
Kiefer tossed her second consecutive shutout for the Dukes in game two, improving to 7-3 on the season. The sophomore pitcher has won five straight decisions and given up just one earned run in her last 29 1/3 innings pitched.
Ford was nearly as good in game one, tying her own school record with 16 strikeouts in a complete-game effort.
In the nightcap, Kiefer limited Towson to one hit and a walk while striking out two in seven innings of work. The reigning CAA Rookie of the Year retired the last 18 hitters she faced, retiring the Tigers in order in each of the last five innings. No Tiger base runner advanced beyond first base in the game.
She out-dueled Missy McCormick who took the loss to drop to 5-6. McCormick gave up six runs, four earned, on 11 hits and a walk, adding a strikeout in seven innings pitched.
Freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) reached base three times, going 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and a RBI while sophomore right fielder Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) contributed two hits and an RBI. Heath homered in four at-bats and senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base.
TU’s catcher Jillian Donnelly recorded the only hit of the day for her team with a single to lead off the second. Left fielder Kelli Lyons reached base with a walk in two at-bats, but was cut down trying to steal in the bottom of the first.
The Dukes struck for a pair of runs in the top of the first to take an early lead on the Tigers. Butler ignited the inning with a bunt single and came all the way around to score on a double in the gap by Field. The rookie catcher moved up to third on the throw home and scored on a single to left by Mooney.
With her single in the first, Butler became just the third player in school history to record 200 hits in her career. She joins Ashley Burnham (2009-12) and Katie George (2004-07) as the only players to break 200.
The score remained tight until the top of the fifth when Heath homered to right field to extend the lead to 3-0. It was the second solo blast of the day for Heath and the fourth of the year for the First Team All-CAA selection. A pair of run-scoring fielding errors by TU plated two more in the sixth before Ford capped the game with a RBI single in the top of the seventh.
It proved to be more than enough for Kiefer who improved to 2-0 all-time against Towson. She has limited Towson to just four hits and struck out 12 in 14 innings pitched.
Ford earned the win in game one to improve to 9-1 on the season. She held TU to two runs, one earned, on two hits and five walks. The rookie tied her own school record by striking out 16 in seven innings of work. Ford also struck out 16 in a 2-0 win over Coastal Carolina on March 10th.
Katie Lingmai took the loss, dropping to 6-8 on the year. She gave up five runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out four in seven innings pitched.
Heath went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs to pace the Madison offense. Mooney blasted her ninth home run of the season on her way to going 2-for-4 with a run and a RBI while Ford helped her own cause with a home run and a single in three trips to the plate.
Donnelly again paced the Tiger attack, picking up a triple and a RBI in three at-bats. Pinch hitter Ambar Hickman recorded a single in her only trip to the plate while five different batters drew walks for Towson.
JMU again wasted little time jumping in front, hitting a pair of home runs in the top of the first to earn a 2-0 advantage. Heath led off the game with a solo shot to center. It was the 12th time in school history a player has led off a game with a home run. In addition to Heath, Burnham hit six lead-off homers, George hit four and Amber Kirk (2006-09) did it once.
Three batters later, Mooney knocked one over the fence in left-center for her ninth home run of the season and the 18th of her career. She is tied for the fourth-most in school history and is just four shy of Burnham’s single-season school record.
Heath plated two more runs for JMU in the top of the fourth inning, driving in junior pinch runner Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) and freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest). Jeans entered the game for senior third baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) who ignited the two-out rally with a walk and moved to second when Hayes walked.
Ford led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run to center. It was her fifth home run of the season.
Towson got a run back in the sixth on a triple down the left-field line by Donnelly. The added a run in the seventh on a fielding error and loaded the bases with two outs, but got Donnelly to strike out swinging to end the game.
JMU and Towson wrap up their three-game conference series on Sunday with a single game beginning at 1 p.m. at the Towson Softball Complex.
# # #