Georgia State scored five two-out runs and left-handed pitcher McCall Langford limited JMU to four runs over 6 2/3 innings pitched to lift third-seeded GSU to a 7-4 win over second-seed James Madison in the opening round of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship in Hempstead, N.Y., on Thursday.
GSU improved to 37-16 on the season advances to the winner’s bracket where it will face top-seeded Hofstra at 12 p.m. JMU dropped to 29-25 and squares off with fourth-seeded Delaware at 2:30 p.m. The winner of the JMU will face the loser of GSU vs. Hofstra with the winner of that game advancing to the championship round against the winner between the Pride and Panthers.
Langford earned the win to improve to 11-6 on the season. She allowed four runs, three of which were earned, on 11 hits and a walk while striking out three. Kaitlyn Medlam pitched the final 1/3 of an inning to earn her fourth save of the season.
CAA Rookie of the Year and First Team All-CAA selection, Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) took the loss for Madison to drop to 13-6 on the season. She gave up five runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out two in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Freshman right-hander Reba DePriest (Apache Junction, Ariz./Skyline) ceded two runs on two hits and three walks in one inning of relief while junior right-hander Cara Stecher (New Castle, Del./Caravel Academy) pitched 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief.
The Panther offense was paced by third baseman Paige Nowacki who went 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk, a run and two RBIs. Catcher Callie Alford added two hits, a run and a RBI while second baseman Whitney Phillips reached base three times, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and a RBI.
Freshman designated player Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) led JMU, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and two RBIs. Junior first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) added three hits in four trips to the plate while junior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) went 2-for-3 with a RBI.
Georgia State struck for the game’s first run as Alford delivered the team’s first two-out RBI hit. The Panthers put a pair of runners on base with singles by right fielder Audrey Mason and designated player Cassie Boese before Kiefer induced a pop-out to set up Alford’s at-bat. Kiefer quickly got ahead of Alford 0-2, but the freshman catcher ripped the third pitch she saw off the fence in center for a double. A strong relay by Butler and senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) held Boese at third and allowed Kiefer to get out of the jam by getting Nowacki to ground out.
GSU delivered another two-out run to extend its lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth inning. Brenna Morrissey and Ashley Christy hit back-to-back one out singles before Mason grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring Phillips to the plate. Phillips laced a single into right field, plating Morrissey from third.
JMU got a run back with a two-out hit of its own in the bottom of the fourth. Mooney doubled to left field to lead off the frame and moved to third on a fielder’s choice by Johnson. After a pop out, Butler drove a single back up the middle to score Mooney.
Nowacki’s two-run homer with one out in the top of the fifth extended the Georgia State lead to 4-1. Alford scored from first on the play after hitting a one-out single to left field. After the home run, Coleman followed with a single up the middle and moved to second on an illegal pitch. Senior Emily Whiaker came in to run for the freshman. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch that forced Kiefer from the game in favor of DePriest.
For the fourth straight inning, Georgia State plated a two-out run in the top of the sixth inning. The Panthers loaded the bases on a couple of singles and a walk before DePriest uncorked a wild pitch to chase home Phillips from third. Two more walks by DePriest brought home another run, forcing JMU head coach Katie Flynn to turn to Stecher to get out of the jam.
Madison got a run back in the bottom of the sixth as it loaded the bases on three singles before senior second baseman Caitlen Manning (Prince George, Va./Prince George) took a pitch off the helmet for the RBI. With the bases loaded and two outs, the Dukes substituted junior pinch hitter Kaitlyn Barbour (Nokesville, Va./Brentsville District), but Langford struck her out to escape the jam.
JMU brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh after Mooney launched a two-run home run and Johnson and junior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) singled to force Langford from the game. Medlam, a Second Team All-CAA selection, entered in relief and ended the threat by inducing a fly-out.
It was the ninth homer of the season for Mooney, tying her for the fourth-highest total in a single season by a Duke and stands alone as the second-highest total by a freshman.