HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., – Sophomore third baseman Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) blasted two home runs and freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) tossed her 20th complete game of the season to carry the James Madison softball team to an 8-1 win over Towson in the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship on Thursday.
JMU improved to 41-14 on the season and advances to Friday’s Championship Round against top-seeded Hofstra at 1 p.m. The Pride defeated the Dukes 8-0 earlier on Thursday in the winners’ bracket game to advance to the championship round and needs to win one of two games to claim the league title. Towson ends its season at 30-28-1 overall.
Ford earned the win in the circle for JMU, improving to 23-4 on the season. She allowed one run on six hits in seven innings of work. The left-hander struck out three and walked one. Her 20th complete game set a school record for a JMU pitcher in a season.
Katie Lingmai took the loss, falling to 18-16. She allowed eight runs, six earned, on nine hits in seven innings. The senior did not walk or strikeout a batter.
Mooney finished the game going 3-for-4 with two home runs, three runs scored and three RBIs. Forded added a home run, three runs scored and a RBI in three at-bats while freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Center fielder Olivia Yarbrough had two hits in three at-bats to pace the TU attack. Left fielder Kelli Lyons added a hit and a RBI while pinch hitter Erin Wolfe went 1-for-1 with a single.
The Dukes jumped out in front in the top of the first inning as they capitalized on a Towson error to score two unearned runs. Sophomore center fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) led off the game with a single to center and moved to second on a Towson fielding error. After a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position with two outs, Field worked a 2-2 count before lining the sixth pitch of the at-bat up the middle for two RBIs.
Heath added her second hit of the game in the top of the second, driving a single to right field to extend the lead to 3-0. Junior right fielder Anna Klumpp (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) knocked a one-out single into left-center field to start the rally. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third before coming home on Heath’s base knock.
Towson came back to score a run in the bottom of the second on a RBI single by left fielder Kelli Lyons. First baseman Bina Abbott was hit by a pitch with one out and right fielder Maureen Hepner ripped a double into the gap, but the Tigers batted out of order and the runner was sent back to first and an out was recorded. Hepner ended up working a walk in her official at-bat before Lyons lifted a flare over the shortstop’s head for the run-scoring single.
Mooney led off the top of the third inning with a solo home run to right-center field to push the lead back up to three at 4-1. It was the CAA Player of the Year’s team-leading 16th home run of the season, extending her school record. Ford followed with a hit-by-pitch and Field singled to center before Towson recorded an out on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch chased home Ford, but Lingmai avoided further damage by getting junior pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) to hit into a fielder’s choice.
Mooney added to her school record with her 17th homer of the season, this time launching a two-run shot in the top of the fourth inning. Freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) led off with a bunt single. She was put-out on a fielder’s choice, but Mooney followed with her 26th career home run, scoring two.
Ford capped the scoring for the Dukes in the top of the seventh inning with her 14th home run of the season. It was a solo shot to right-center field.