JMU softball recovers from upset loss, reaches CAA Tournament final
Top-seeded James Madison hit three home runs and used an eight-run second as the Dukes cruised into the title game of the Colonial Athletic Association Softball Championship with a 13-2 five-inning victory over third-seeded Elon on Thursday evening at Veterans Memorial Park.
The Dukes moved their season record to 46-7, setting a new single-season records for wins, while the Phoenix ended their inaugural season in the CAA at 31-22 overall.
The Dukes amassed 12 hits as three players produced a multi-hit outings, led by sophomore outfielderTaylor Newton, who finished 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Freshman designated player Jessica Mrozek was 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs while junior catcher Erica Field hit 2-for-4 with a home run, a game-high four RBIs and two runs.
Two others scored multiple runs in junior first baseman Jailyn Ford and sophomore shortstop Niki Prince, who crossed the plate three and two times, respectively. Prince was also hit by a pitch twice, setting a single-season record with 11 hit by pitches.
Freshman pitcher Megan Good got back on the winning track, improving to 28-1 this year, after conceding just one hit, to go with three strikeouts in three innings of work. Senior pitcher Heather Kiefer finished the game, conceding two runs and three hits over the final two innings.
JMU opened the scoring in a big way, piling on eight runs in the top of the second. With two on and one out, Mrozek belted her third career home run to left center, a three-run shot, to put the Dukes up 3-0. Three batters, Field drove in sophomore outfielder Tahli Moore with a RBI single up the middle for a 4-0 advantage.
Prince made it 5-0 when she scored on a wild pitch andGood extended the lead to 6-0 with a RBI double to right center to score Field. After an Ford intentional walk, Newton laced a single to right, plating Good and the Dukes rounded out the frame when junior outfielder Hannah Hayessuccessfully reached with a bunt single, scoring Ford from third, to make it 8-0.
The Dukes tacked on five more runs in the third to extend the advantage to 13. With two on, Field homered for the ninth time in 2015 over the left center wall, scoring both Prince and sophomore pinch runner Mimi Morris, to put JMU ahead 11-0. Following a Ford double to right center, Newton launched her 10th home run of the year, a two-run homer deep to left field which ricocheted off the inflatable Duke Dog.
Elon added two late runs in the fifth on a triple by Aly Quintana and a double by Hannah Olson. Kayla Caruso was handed the defeat, falling to 12-5 after surrendering four runs on two hits and two walks in only 1.2 innings pitched. Elon’s bullpen struggled as well, giving up nine more runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings of work.
JMU faces second-seeded Hofstra for the tournament crown today, beginning at noon. Due to the double-elimination format, JMU will have to beat HU twice to be the champions while Hofstra needs just one win.