The James Madison softball team picked up the first NCAA Tournament win in school history, defeating Longwood 5-0 in the first elimination game of the Knoxville Regional at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday.
Game two of the day between JMU and N.C. State was suspended in the top of the fifth inning with the score tied 4-4. The teams will resume that game at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday with the winner advancing to player Tennessee in the regional championship at approximately 1:30 p.m.
The Dukes improved to 42-16 on the season with their first NCAA Tournament win and 1-3 in postseason play. They sent Longwood home, ending its season at 41-21.
Freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) earned the win for the Madison as she improved to 24-6 on the season. She threw her ninth shutout of the season to move into first place in the record book for single-season shutouts. She limited the Lancers to four hits and four walks while striking out five in seven innings of work.
Libby Morris took the loss for Longwood, finishing her season with a 21-9 mark. She allowed five runs, four earned, on four hits in six innings pitched. The right-hander struck out two and walked one.
Offensively, the Dukes were paced by Ford who went 2-for-3 with a grand slam, four RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore center fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a RBI while junior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) went 1-for-1 with a single.
Four players recorded hits for Longwood, including doubles by right fielder Chelsea Sciacca and third baseman Jordan Cox. Sciacca added a walk while left fielder Kori Nishitomi and shortstop Emily Murphy both went 1-for-3.
The Dukes did all their scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning as they scored five times on three hits and an error. Clavin started the frame with a pinch hit single for the down, driving a 1-1 pitch to right field. She was pinch run for by senior Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) who moved up to on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run on a single up the middle by Heath. Junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) followed with a pop up behind the second base, but reached safely after a pair of Lancer fielders collided and allowed the ball to fall in. With runners on second and third and nobody out, Longwood head coach Kathy Riley elected to intentionally walk CAA Player of the Year sophomore third baseman Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) to load the bases. The rain began falling causing a rain delay. After the break, Ford lined the second pitch she saw down the left-field line for a grand slam, her second slam of the season, increasing the lead to 5-0 heading into the seventh inning. It was the rookie’s 15th home run of the season.
The Lancers put a pair of runners on in the top of the seventh, but Ford got Megan Baltzell to foul-out to end the game.
Madison led 1-0 after one inning against NC State before giving up four runs in the third. The Dukes rallied for three runs in the bottom of the four to tie the score including a two-run triple by Clavin and a RBI single by junior left fielder Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton-Boxborough).
Play resumes at 11:30 a.m. with the Wolfpack batting to start the top of the fifth.