Long Balls Power Dukes to CAA Regular-Season Title
Using seven long balls on the day, No. 20 James Madison softball earned the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title as the Dukes defeated Drexel, 14-0 and 9-4, on Saturday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Park.
With two wins, the Dukes improve to 40-7 overall, marking the seventh straight year JMU has recorded at least 40 wins in a season. The Dukes are 16-1 in conference action, while the Dragons fall to 29-29-1 and 9-8.
Junior Odicci Alexander led the Dukes with two home runs and six RBI on the day while junior Kate Gordon went 6-for-7 with a homer and three RBI.
The Dukes jumped out to an early lead, scoring five runs in the first inning on three hits. After doubles from Gordon and Alexander, sophomore Logan Newton launched her 10th home run of the season with a three-run shot to right center.
Junior Madison Naujokas singled up the middle to begin the second frame and sophomore Hannah File reached on a walk. Gordon blasted a three-run homer to center for her 15th of the season. Newton reached on a fielder’s choice and freshman Kelsey Brown entered the game to pinch run. Brown crossed the plate on a RBI double from junior Kierstin Roadcap, putting the Dukes up 9-0.
JMU tacked on another run in the third as Naujokas sent a solo shot to left field for her third on the year (10-0). In the fourth, Brown notched her second hit of the season on a bunt single and sophomore Sara Jubas hit a two-run homer to give the Dukes a 12-0 advantage. With hits from Natalie Cutright, Lynsey Meeks, Victoria Figueroa and Hannah Shifflett, the Dukes plated two more runs for a final score of 14-0 in a five-inning run-rule victory.
Alexander threw a one-hitter through five complete innings in which she earned her sixth shutout and 18th win of the season. In the circle, Alexander tallied 10 strikeouts and didn’t walk a single batter.
Only one pitch into the game, File blasted her sixth long ball of the season for a leadoff home run. Gordon reached on a single and Alexander sent her home on a two-run shot over the center field wall. Jubas doubled down the left field line and was scored on a sacrifice fly from Roadcap to give JMU a 5-0 lead after one inning.
The Dukes plated one run in the second and two more in the fourth on Alexander’s second two-run homer of the game. With the two long balls, Alexander upped her season total to 12 while giving JMU an 8-0 lead.
Drexel posted its first runs of the day on three hits, including a two-run home run to cut JMU’s lead to 8-4 after the top of the fifth. In the bottom half, the Dukes used three hits to score the final run of the game (9-4).
Good notched her 16th victory in the circle of the 2019 campaign, pitching seven complete innings while racking up nine strikeouts.
QUOTING COACH LAPORTE
“I was very happy with the way our girls came out to play today. I felt like we had great energy from the beginning and we used the long ball to put runs on the board. We made a few mistakes in the second game, but we were able to bounce back from them and that’s what I’m proud of as a coach.”
FOR HISTORY’S SAKE
JMU earned the regular-season title for the sixth consecutive season.
The Dukes’ four home runs in game one marks the most in a single game since Lehigh at the ASU Invitational on March 9.
This is the first time the Dukes have scored in each inning since playing on April 4.
The last Duke to hit two home runs in a game was Jubas against UNCW two weeks ago on April 13.
The Dukes are back in action against the Dragons tomorrow morning on Senior Day. Senior recognition is set to begin at 10:50 a.m. and first pitch is slated for 11 a.m.