ORLANDO, Fla., March 1, 2013 – Pittsburgh earned a 3-2 walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh inning of game one to open the day, but the James Madison softball team responded with a 7-0 win over the College of Charleston in game two to earn a split on day one of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., Friday.
JMU opened the tournament with a 1-1 record and ran its overall record to 8-4. Pittsburgh improved to 6-6 while Charleston saw its seven-game winning streak snapped in falling to 7-4.
In game two against the College of Charleston, freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) tossed four shutout innings and hit her third home run of the season to earn the win. She limited the Cougars to one hit and two walks while striking out nine to improve 4-0. Sophomore pitcher Reba DePriest (Apache Junction, Ariz./Skyline) earned her first career save by tossing three innings of shutout relief. The right-hander struck out seven and allowed one hit.
The 16 combined strikeouts was a new team record for the Dukes. The previous mark was 15 set on March 25, 2009 against George Washington.
Stephanie Saylors took the loss to drop to 3-1. She gave up four runs on three hits and a walk in one inning of work. Valerie Cassell allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings of relief while Jen Rosene ceded one run on three hits in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
Junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) paced the JMU offense with two hits, including a home run, three RBIs and a run scored. Senior designated player Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) went 2-for-2 with two runs, two steals and a walk while Ford was 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.
Cassell finished 1-for-3 at the plate while catcher Courtney Clark had the team’s other hit. Third baseman Kelsey Hodgson and shortstop Lizzy Vaughn picked up a walk each.
JMU jumped in front of Charleston in the top of the second inning, scoring four runs on a pair of two-run home runs. Sophomore first baseman Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) led off the inning with a walk. She stole second and came in to score on a home run to right-center field by Ford. It was Ford’s third homer of the season with all of them coming against the College of Charleston.
Shinaberry singled to center in the next at-bat and came around to score on Sandy’s second home run of the season.
Madison added to its lead by manufacturing a pair of runs in the top of the third. Senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) led off with a bunt single and moved to third on an infield single by freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park). During the ensuing at-bat, Field stole second, drawing a throw from the Cougar catcher, allowing Butler to steal home. Field went to third on the throw home and scored on a ground-out by Mooney.
Sandy added to Madison’s lead with an RBI single in the fifth. Shinaberry scored on the play after singling and moving to second on a stolen base.
In the first game of the day, Pittsburgh Alex Larkin earned the win with a complete-game effort. She gave up two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out three to improve to 3-2.
Sophomore Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) took the loss to drop to 2-2. She gave up three runs on eight hits. The sophomore struck out four and walked one. Mooney pitched 1/3 inning of relief, giving up a hit and walking one.
Left fielder Tori Nirschl and centerfielder Ashlee Sills set the table well for the Panthers, reaching base five times combined. Nirschl was 3-for-4 with a run while Sills went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run. First baseman Taylor Henry contributed a hit and two RBIs in four at-bats.
Sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) reached base three times, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Mooney was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) added two hits and a run.
Pittsburgh jumped out in front with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Nirschl started the rally with a one-out single up the middle and moved to second on an infield single by Sills. Catcher Holly Stevens worked a 2-2 count before lining a single into center, plating Nirschl for the go-ahead run.
Mooney came through with a two-out, two-run single to put the Dukes ahead in the top of the fifth. Junior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Puquoson, Va./Puquoson) led off the frame with a walk and moved to third on singles Hayes and Heath. After Larkin picked up a strikeout and a fielder’s choice groundout, Mooney came to the plate with the bases loaded. She looked at a strike before lining a single into center, scoring Hayes and Heath.
Pittsburgh walked off with the win in the bottom of the 7th, taking advantage of a pair of walks by Madison pitchers. Pinch hitter Kathryn Duran started the comeback by working a one-out walk. Pinch runner Carly Thea moved to second on a single by Nirschl. JMU head coach Mickey Dean turned to Mooney in an attempt to get out of the jam, but Mooney walked the first batter she faced to load the bases. JMU got its second out of the inning on a fielder’s choice, cutting down the runner at the plate to set up a bases loaded situation Henry. She came through with the game-winning hit, driving a sharp grounder through the hole on the left side for a pair of RBIs.
JMU returns to the field on Saturday for day two of the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic. The Dukes take on Illinois State at 4:45 from the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex before closing the day with a meeting against No. 14/14 Michigan at 7 p.m.
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