Sophomore pitcher Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) struck out 11 to lead the James Madison softball team to a split in a non-conference doubleheader with Longwood at Veterans Memorial Park, Wednesday. JMU took game one 4-2 behind Ford’s complete-game effort before falling to Longwood, 5-1, in game two.
The Dukes lost for only the second time this season at home and only the fourth time in the last two seasons. They ran their season record to 29-12 while Longwood improved to 26-8.
Longwood pitcher Elizabeth McCarthy matched Ford’s excellent effort from game one with one of her own in the nightcap. The left-hander earned the win to improve to 10-3, holding the Dukes to one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings of work. She struck out eight.
Junior right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) took the loss for Madison to fall to 13-6. She gave up four runs, but just one was earned, on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. The Potomac Falls, Va., native struck out two and did not walk a batter. Kelly Wishard pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief. She gave up one run on three hits.
Offensively, the Lancers were paced by catcher Megan Baltzell who went 3-for-4 with a double and a run while shortstop Emily Murphy was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Left fielder Casey Lifsey added two hits, including a home run, two runs and a RBI.
Freshman center fielder Niki Prince (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) and freshman third baseman Madyson Moran (Taylor Mill, Ky./Holy Cross) combined for four of the Dukes’ five hits. Price was 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI while Moran went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) had Madison’s other hit, going 1-for-3 with a single.
The Lancers took advantage of an error by the Dukes to open the scoring in the top of the first. The first three batters reached base as Murphy and Baltzell hit singles sandwiched around a Madison error. After a fielder’s choice cut down the first out of the inning, third baseman Carly Adams lifted a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring center fielder Katie Shinrock.
Lifsey made it 2-0 in favor of Longwood with a two-out solo homer in the top of the second.
Two more unearned runs for the Lancers in the top of the fourth extended the advantage to 4-0. A two-out double by Murphy proved to be the decisive blow.
Madison got on the board in the fifth with a RBI double by Prince that scored Moran. The Dukes brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the frame, but McCarthy got out of the jam with a strikeout.
The Lancers tacked on an insurance run in the top of the seventh on a double by right fielder Chelsea Sciacca that scored Baltzell from first.
Ford earned the win in game one after tossing her 15th complete game of the season. She improved to 16-6 by limiting the Lancers to two runs on six hits in seven innings of work. The left-hander tied her season-high with 11 strikeouts and did not walk a batter.
Libby Morris took the loss to fall to 13-5. The righty allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings pitched. She struck out two and walked three.
Offensively, the Dukes were paced by senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough) who went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run and a RBI. Sandy homered in three at-bats while freshman third baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) went 1-for-2 with a double a run and a RBI.
Baltzell went 3-for-3 with a run to guide the Lancers attack. Sciaccca added a hit and two RBIs while Shinrock was 1-for-3 with a run.
JMU opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning to grab a 1-0 lead. Freshman right fielder Taylor Newton (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) worked a walk to lead off the frame and came around to score on a double down the left-field line Clayton.
The Lancers responded with three consecutive two-out hits in the top of the third to take the lead, 2-1. Shinrock started the rally with a single under the third baseman’s glove and moved to third on a single to left center by Baltzell. Sciacca plated both runners with a bloop single into shallow left.
Back-to-back doubles by Clayton and Moran tied the game for Madison before sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) singled up the middle for a 3-2 lead.
Sandy led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to center field to extend the lead to 4-2.
The Dukes are back in action this weekend as they travel to Philadelphia for a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series at Drexel.