HARRISONBURG, VA. (Press Release) -- Senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough) hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning to complete a three-run, seventh-inning rally as the James Madison softball team defeated Delaware 7-6 at Veterans Memorial Park, Sunday.
JMU extended its winning streak to nine games, improving to 38-13 overall and 12-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. It carries a one-game lead over Charleston and Hofstra heading into the final weekend of play. Delaware completes its season with a 23-25 mark and 5-12 in the league.
The four Madison seniors combined to go 5-for-8 with five RBIs, three runs scored and a stolen base on the day. Clayton led the way, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs while shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and a RBI. Pinch hitter Catherine Clavin (Poquoson, Va./Poquoson) added a single and two RBIs in her only at-bat. Pinch runner Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) stole a base a scored a run in her time on the base paths.
UD was paced by shortstop Sarah Bencivenga who went 3-for-4 with two home runs, four RBIs and two runs scored. Right fielder Jessica Grisler went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored while center fielder Gabby Klecko had two hits and a run in three plate appearances.
Freshman right-hander Kelly Wishard (Hillsborough, N.J./Hillsborough) earned the win in the circle for the Dukes, picking up her first career decision. She is 1-0 on the season after striking out one in a shutout inning of relief. Sophomore left-hander Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) drew the start and gave up three runs on three hits in three innings of work. Junior right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) ceded three runs on seven hits and a walk in three innings pitched.
Carolyn Szymanski tossed a complete game in the circle for the Blue Hens, falling to 12-13 on the year. She allowed seven runs on seven hits and five walks in 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander struck out five.
The Blue Hens took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two-run homer by Bencivenga. Grisler led off the inning with a single to center and moved around to third on two sacrifice bunts to set up Bencivenga’s two-out blast to right-center field.
Bencivenga made it 3-0 with a RBI single in the top of the third. Designated player Morgan Schroll led off with a walk, moved to second on a ground-out and stole third before the freshman shorstop laced a single to right field.
The Dukes got a run back in the bottom of the third with a two-out RBI of their own. Freshman third baseman Madyson Moran (Taylor Mill, Ky./Holy Cross) led off with a walk before Jean entered to run for her and stole second. She moved to third on a fly-out and came around to score on a seeing-eye single by Hayes.
Clavin tied the game with a pinch hit, two-run single with two outs in the fourth inning. The Dukes loaded the bases on a pair of walks and an infield single by Sandy. Clavin swung at the first pitch of her at-bat and hit a soft chopper up the middle that allowed two Madison players to race around for runs.
Delaware regained the lead in the top of the sixth inning on Bencivenga’s third RBI hit of the game and her second home run. She led off the inning with a solo home run down the left field line. Grisler added two more runs with a two-out, bases loaded single up the middle later in the inning.
A lead-off double by Sandy helped JMU get a run back in the bottom of the sixth. She pulled a ball down the left-field line and hustled out of the box for two bases. One batter later, senior Clayton singled to center to plate the shortstop.
JMU heroics in the bottom of the seventh were ignited by two hit by pitches and a walk sandwiched around a pop-out. A Blue Hen fielding error plated the first run of the frame before a high pop-up was lost in the sun by the Delaware center fielder allowing the tying run to score. Clayton then worked a full count in a nine-pitch at-bat before smacking a single back up the middle for her first career walk-off hit.
The Dukes close out their regular season home schedule by hosting a doubleheader against East Carolina on Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Park.