Sophomore pitcher/first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs ,Va./Bath County) and junior pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) limited their opponent to five hits over 15 shutout innings pitched to lead the James Madison softball team to a doubleheader sweep of UNCW at Boseman Field in Wilmington, N.C., Friday. JMU won game one 2-0 in eight innings before taking the nightcap, 5-0.
The Dukes reached the 40-win plateau for the second time in school history as they ran their winning streak to 11 games to improve to 40-13 overall and 14-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Their magic number for clinching their first outright CAA Championship is at one. UNCW dropped to 18-33 and 4-12 with its two losses.
Kiefer earned the win in game two to improve to 19-7 overall. She allowed four hits and a walk in seven innings pitched and needed only 75 pitches to complete the shutout.
Peyton Jordan took the loss for the Seahawks, dropping to 7-17 on the year. She gave up four runs, but just one was earned in 3 2/3 innings pitched. The right-hander walked one and struck out one. Kayla Pine pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, giving up a run on three hits. She struck out two.
Madison’s offense was drive by senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Sophomore catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) added a hit and two RBIs while Ford was 1-for-3 with a home run.
Four players recorded hits for UNCW led by second baseman Jessica Rappe reaching base twice with a since and a walk in two trips to the plate. Shortstop Lauren Moore, right fielder Morgan Ayers and pinch hitter Clausdia Spinelli all had singles for the Seahawks.
JMU pushed four runs across in the top of the fourth inning, using five hits and two UNCW errors to get there. The bases were loaded on three straight singles by Sandy, freshman right fielder Taylor Newton (Bradenton, Fla./Lakewood Ranch) and senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough). After a pop-out, senior Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) pinch hit and pulled a sharp grounder to short that was misplayed for an error, scoring one before sophomore Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest) found a hole for an RBI single to make it 2-0. Field capped the four-run frame with a single back up the middle that scored two.
Ford led off the top of the seventh inning with a solo home run to center field to extend the lead to 5-0. It was the sophomore’s ninth home run of the season and 24th of her career.
Kiefer handled the rest for the Dukes, using 75 pitches to complete the shutout. She moved into sole possession of third on the school’s all-time shutout list with her 14th and also became just the third pitcher in school history to make 70 or more starts.
Ford outdueled Casey Rowland in game one to earn the win for the Dukes. She improved to 20-6 on the season after holding the Seahawks to one hit and a walk in an eight-inning shutout. She struck out eight with her first of the day being the 400th of her career. She joins Meredith Felts (2006-09) and Jenny Clohan (2006-09) as the only JMU players to reach that milestone. It was also her 16th career shutout and 40th career complete game.
Rowland took the tough-luck loss to fall to 10-14 on the year. She allowed two runs on three hits in eight innings pitched. The left-hander struck out seven and walked four.
Offensively, the Dukes got singles by Field, Clayton and freshman left fielder Mimi Morris (Kenilworth, Ill./New Trier). Morris and Newton each scored runs for Madison with Newton working a walk in three plate appearances.
Wilmington’s lone hit came from center fielder Brittany Gamby who went 1-for-3. Third baseman Nella Chamblee also reached base with a walk in three trips to the plate.
The Dukes finally broke up the shutout in the top of the eighth, scoring a run without the benefit of a hit. Newton led off the inning with a walk and moved to third on consecutive sacrifice bunts. After Clavin drew a walk, Rowland uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Newton to slide home with the go-ahead run. Another wild pitch, this time walking freshman center fielder Niki Prince (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) chased home the team’s second run.
Ford completed the one-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, setting down the Seahawks in order to earn her 20th win of the season.
The Dukes and Seahawks close out the regular season on Saturday with the series finale schedule for a noon first pitch.