HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., May 11, 2012 – Three players hits home runs after entering the seventh inning tied and freshman right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls ) stranded a pair of runners on base with the tying run at the plate as the second-seeded James Madison softball team defeated fourth-seeded Delaware in the first elimination game at the Colonial Athletic Association Softball Championship on Friday.
JMU reached the 30-win plateau for the fifth time in school history as it improved to 30-25 overall and advances to face third-seeded Georgia State in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Delaware dropped to 15-41-1 overall and is eliminated from the tournament.
Kiefer, the CAA Rookie of the Year, tossed a complete game to earn the win, improving to 14-6 overall. She allowed three runs on nine hits. The freshman struck out three and did not walk a batter.
UD right-hander Chenxi Jiao pitched the first 6 2/3 innings to take the loss and drop to 8-25. She allowed six runs, four earned on nine hits and five walks while striking out two. Hannah Rust retired the only batter she faced in 1/3 inning of relief.
Offensively, Madison was led by sophomore shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) who went 1-for-3 with a home run, two runs score and a RBI. Senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) added a double and two RBIs in two trips to the plate while junior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) went 1-for-3 with a home run, a run and two RBIs.
Third baseman Jessica Grisler paced the Delaware attack, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs and a RBI. Shortstop Alicea Coy added three hits in four at-bats while designated player Morgan Culver went 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
JMU broke up the early pitcher’s duel in the top of the fifth inning as the two-time CAA Player of the Year Burnham delivered a two-out double for the game’s first big blow. Junior right fielder Anna Klumpp (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) led off the frame with a single down the left-field line and moved to second on a throwing error by Jiao. With two outs, Burnham worked a 1-1 count before driving the third offering from the Delaware right-hander into the left-center gap, scoring both Klumpp and Sandy.
The Blue Hens came back to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth inning. Grisler started the frame with a single into shallow right. Coy followed with a single to left and both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt. With two in scoring position and one out, Morgan Culver delivered a single back up the middle to score both runners.
The Dukes wasted little time to regain the lead the top of the seventh inning as Sandy lofted a fly down the left-field line that just curled inside the foul pole for a solo home run. It was the second home run of the season for the sophomore and the third of her career.
Two batters later junior first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) hit a homer to almost the same exact spot as Sandy’s blast to make it 4-2. It was Johnson’s fourth homer of the season and the 12th of her. Butler capped the inning with a two-run blast to straightaway center field for her second home run of the season. Junior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) scored on the play after drawing her third walk of the game.
Delaware got a run back in the bottom of the seventh inning on a solo home run by Grisler to cut the deficit to 6-3. The Blue Hens brought the tying run to the plate with two runners on base and two outs, but Burnham made an diving play in the whole and forced the runner at third to end the game.
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