The JMU softball team won its first CAA tournament title in five years and earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
HARRISONBURG, VA. (WHSV) -- Junior right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) tossed six innings of shutout relief as the James Madison softball team won its second Colonial Athletic Association Championship, knocking off fourth-seeded Towson, 4-0, at Veterans Memorial Park, Friday.
JMU went 3-0 in the tournament, allowing one earned run in 21 innings of work to claim their first league title since 2009. The Dukes extended their winning streak to 15 games. They improved to 44-13 overall and find out their NCAA Tournament destination on Sunday. The NCAA selection show airs at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
Towson finishes its season 29-25.
Kiefer earned the win in the circle for JMU to improve to 20-7 on the season. She allowed three hits and struck out three in six innings of work. Sophomore left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) walked two and struck out one in an inning of work.
Towson’s Missy McCormick took the loss, falling to 17-11 on the year. She allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings pitched. The right-hander struck out one and walked one.
Senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after finishing the week hitting .556 (5-for-9) with two doubles and three RBIs. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by Ford, sophomore catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) and sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest).
Sandy went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs on Friday to pace the Madison attack. Hayes contributed two hits in three at-bats while freshman left fielder Tahli Moore (Sydney, Australia/Loreto Normanhurst College) went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Towson got hits from catcher Holiday Cahill, first baseman Courtney Johnson and right fielder Maureen Hepner with Hepner’s knock being a double. McCormick and third baseman Delanie Dunham drew walks in three plate appearances apiece.
JMU opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the third. Moore led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. McCormick retired the next two batters before walking Field. Ford followed with a single to left field scoring Moore from second after she avoided the tag from Cahill with an impressive slide. Sandy capped the rally with a double into shallow center field, scoring freshman pinch runner Caitlin Viafora (Stanley, Va./Page County) and Ford on the play.
The Dukes tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning. Freshman right fielder Taylor Newton (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) led off with a double to left-center and came in to score on a RBI single by senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough).
Towson’s best threat came in the top of the second inning. The Tigers loaded the bases on two walks and a bunt single. Kiefer entered the game and got left fielder Jessica South to ground into a double play before erasing the threat with a strikeout.
From there the right-hander scattered two more hits, but only once allowed a runner to reach scoring position.