CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. -- Junior right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) and sophomore left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) combined to limit their opponent to three runs in two games as the James Madison softball team swept a doubleheader from Virginia at The Park in Charlottesville, Va., Tuesday. JMU won game one 3-1 and took the nightcap, 5-2.
With the sweep the Dukes have won six straight and improved to 6-0 against the Atlantic Coast Conference on the season. They improved to 35-13 overall. Virginia dropped its eight straight and fell to 6-40 on the season.
Kiefer earned the win in game two after holding the Cavaliers to two runs on five hits in five innings of work. She improved to a career-best 17-7 after striking out three and walking none. Ford tied the school record with her fourth save of the season. She allowed one hit and a walk in two shutout frames. The sophomore struck out two.
Right-hander Aimee Chapdelaine took the loss for UVA to fall to 6-34. She gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits in a complete-game effort. The sophomore struck out a career-best nine and walked four.
Senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) paced the offense by going 1-for-2 with a home run, four RBIs and a run scored. Freshman center fielder Niki Prince (Ashburn, Va./Ashburn) extended her reached base streak to 12 games by going 1-for-4 with a run scored while freshman right fielder Taylor Newton (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) was 1-for-3 with a single.
Second baseman Marcy Bowdren led the offense for Virginia with two hits, including a home run, a run and a RBI while Chapdelaine homered in three trips to the plate. Third baseman Lindsay Mayer chipped in a single in two at-bats.
Sandy smacked her first career grand slam in the top of the first inning to put the Dukes in front 4-0. Prince and sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) opened the game with consecutive singles through the left side. After a ground-out moved both runners up a base, Ford drew a four-pitch walk to set up Sandy’s fifth home run of the season and the 11th of her career.
Chapdelaine hit a solo home run, the first of her career, with one out in the bottom of the third to pull UVA to within 4-1. Bowdren made it 4-2 with a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth. It was the senior’s team-leading seventh homer of the season.
The Dukes tacked on an unearned insurance run in the top of the seventh, before Ford retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to close out the win.
In game one, Ford tossed 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief to earn the win. She improved to 18-6 after holding the Cavaliers to two hits while striking out four. Kiefer drew the start and gave up one run on six hits in 2 1/3 innings pitched.
Chapdelaine took the loss to fall to 6-33 on the season. She allowed three runs on nine hits in a complete-game effort. The right-hander struck out four and walked two.
Offensively, the Dukes were paced by senior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) with a two-run double in her lone at-bat while Prince went 2-for-4 with a run. Ford doubled and drove in one in her three trips to the blage.
Center fielder Iyana Hughes went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored to pace the Cavs attack. Catcher Katie Park supplied two hits, including a double, and a RBI while first baseman Megan Harris went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.
The Dukes jumped in front of the Cavaliers in the top of the first inning on a RBI double by Ford. Prince led off the game by lining the first pitch she saw into left field for a single. She stole second and came in to score as Ford pulled a double down the left-field line.
The Cavaliers evened the score in the bottom of the third on consecutive one-out hits. Hughes led off with a single into left field. She took off running during the ensuing at-bat as Park pulled a double down the left-field line allowing Hughes to score from first.
Clavin came through with her third two-run, pinch-hit in the last four games to put Madison out in front in the fourth inning. JMU mounted its rally with two outs as senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough) and freshman third baseman Madyson Moran (Taylor Mill, Ky./Holy Cross) strung together back-to-back singles before Clavin laced a double into the gap to score both runners.
Those two runs proved to be the difference as Ford retired 14 of the 16 batters she faced in relief to shut down the UVA attack.
The Dukes return to the field this weekend as they host Delaware at Veterans Memorial Park for a Colonial Athletic Association series. Saturday is a doubleheader with first pitch set for 3 p.m. while Sunday features Senior Day and a game beginning at 2 p.m.