HARRISONBURG, Va., April 13, 2011 – James Madison softball traded come-from-behind victories with Liberty as the two teams split a non-conference doubleheader at Veterans Memorial Park on Wednesday. JMU won game one 4-3 before dropping the night cap 9-7.
The Dukes improved to 9-2 at home this season and ran its record to 25-14 overall. Liberty’s record went to 15-18 in 2011.
In game two, freshman pitcher Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) went the distance for Madison in the circle, but took the loss to drop to 5-7. She allowed nine runs, eight earned, on 14 hits and walk.
Tiffani Smith picked up the win in relief to improve to 5-10. She gave up two runs on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out three in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Alyssa DiMartino drew the start and gave up five runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings pitched.
Junior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) paced the JMU offense, going 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, three RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) chipped in two hits, including a home run while senior third baseman Lauren Robison (St. Leonard, Md./Calvert) added two hits, a double, a RBI and a walk in three plate appearances.
First baseman Kaylee West went 3-for-4 with two home runs, two runs and a career-high five RBIs to lead Liberty. Third baseman Ashley Bensinger added three hits and two runs in four at bats and second baseman Kelly Strickland went 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs, a RBI and a walk.
Liberty took advantage of a JMU error in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Liberty put runners on first and second with one out on a single and a walk. After catcher Keely McMillon was thrown out at the plate on a single to left field, right fielder Jenny Law hit an infield pop-up that was dropped by the Dukes for an error, allowing Strickland to score the game’s first run.
The Dukes tied the score in their first at bat of the game as Burnham hit a lead-off home run to left field. Burnham moved into second in the nation in lead-off shots with four while extended her school record for homers to 12.
The Flames retook the lead in the top of the second inning on back-to-back two-out doubles. Center fielder Amber DePasquale started the rally with double down the left-field line before scoring on a double off the fence in right-center by shortstop Sammi Shivock.
JMU tied the score in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run to right-center field by Johnson. It was sophomore’s fifth homer of the season.
Another two-out hit gave LU the lead in the top of the third as West hit a two-run home run to right-center field. Law scored on the play after reaching on a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning.
Madison jumped on the LU pitchers for five runs on six hits in the fourth inning. Freshman right fielder Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough) started the frame with a single through the right side and freshman pinch runner Anna Klumpp (Puquoson, Va./Puquoson) moved to third on a single by Johnson. After a sacrifice fly by sophomore designated player Lori Botkin (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) cut the lead to 4-3, back-to-back singles by redshirt senior left fielder Chel’sea Ryan (Sandston, Va./Henrico) and sophomore catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) scored freshman pinch runner Lindsey Tomasz (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport) to tie the score. Senior third baseman Lauren Robison (St. Leonard, Md./Calvert) gave the Dukes their first lead of the game with a double off the fence in left-center before Burnham capped the inning with a two-run double to right-center.
Liberty came right back to tie the score with a pair of home runs in the top of the fifth. Strickland led off the inning with a solo shot to left-center before West hit her second homer of the game, a two-run shot to right.
The Flames scored two runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead for good. Three straight singles by Bensinger, Law and West gave LU its first run. After a line-out, left fielder Meredith Crisante reached on an error to extend the lead to 9-7.
In game one, senior pitcher Olivia McPherson (Liberty, N.C./Southern Alamance) tossed her seventh complete game of the season to earn the win and improve to 10-6. She allowed three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four.
Smith took the loss for Liberty to drop to 4-10. She allowed one unearned run on one hit in an inning of relief. Katrina Johnson drew the start and gave up three runs on six hits in five innings of work.
Offensively, the Dukes were led by Botkin who went 2-for-2 with two singles and two RBIs. Sophomore center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) added a double and a run scored while freshman third baseman Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) was 1-for-3 with a double and a run.
The Flames were led by designated player Jill Stephens who went 2-for-3 with a RBI while Shivock added a home run and two RBIs in four at bats. DePasquale went 1-for-3 with a triple and a run scored.
Liberty jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Right fielder Jenny Law led off the inning with a double off the fence in left field. After a ground-out, Stephens hit a grounder through the hole on the right side for a RBI single.
The Dukes used a little small ball in the bottom of the second to stage a two-out rally at tie the score at 1-1. Ryan started things with an infield single and moved to second on her 18th stolen base of the season. Botkin followed with a single up the middle that easily scored Ryan from second.
Liberty put together back-to-back two-out hits in the top of the fifth inning to take a 3-1 lead. DePasquale started the rally with a triple off the top of the fence in left-center before Shivock drove a wind-blown home run out over the fence in right-center.
JMU cut the lead in half in the bottom half of the inning on Botkin’s second RBI hit of the game. Sandy started the inning with a double to right-center field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan. In the ensuing at bat, Botkin worked a 1-1 count before dropping down a suicide squeeze bunt and beating the throw to first for a single.
Madison struck for two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead. Butler led off the inning with a double to left-center. She scored when junior second baseman Caitlen Manning’s (Prince George, Va./Prince George) bunt found a hole on the right side for a single. Manning moved to third when senior catcher Katie Spitzer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) dropped down a bunt and Smith’s throw sailed over the first baseman’s head for an error. After a pop-out, Sandy attempted another suicide squeeze, but Bensinger scooped up the ball and tagged the runner out at the plate. Sandy went to steal second on the play and forced a run down, allowing freshman pinch runner Lindsey Tomasz to score the game’s winning run.
The Dukes will be back in action this weekend as they travel to Hempstead, N.Y., for a three-game series with Hofstra.
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