Late Home Runs Lift James Madison Over Delaware, 6-3, Eliminating Blue Hens From CAA Softball Tournament
May 11, 2012
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The James Madison University softball team used three home runs in the top of the seventh inning and held off a late Blue Hen rally to defeat the University of Delaware, 6-3, in an elimination game at the Colonial Athletic Association Softball Tournament Friday afternoon at the Hofstra Softball Stadium.
The second-seeded Dukes, who improved to 30-25 on the year, advance to face Georgia State later on Friday in another elimination game. The fourth-seeded Blue Hens, making their second consecutive conference tournament appearance, end their season at 15-41-1.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning, when the Dukes pushed across a pair of unearned runs. Anna Klumpp led off by blooping a single to shallow left field, but Morgan Heath then popped out on a bunt for the first out of the inning. Caitlin Sandy then dropped down a bunt, but she reached when the throw to first by Blue Hen starter Chenxi Jiao was high and pulled Michelle McKinnon off the base. Jiao then retired Sarah Mooney on an infield fly but CAA Player of the Year Ashley Burnham followed by ripping a double into the gap in leftcenter, chasing home both runners to give James Madison the lead.
The Blue Hens managed just three singles through the first five innings before mounting a rally during the bottom of the sixth. Jessica Grisler (at right) led off with a single to right field, and after Alicea Coy singled to left, the runners moved to second and third on a sacrifice bunt by McKinnon. Morgan Culver then drilled an 0-2 pitch into rightcenter for a single, driving home both runners to knot the contest at 2-2. One out later Kaitlyn Breneman singled to center to put runners on first and second, but JMU pitcher Heather Kiefer retired Marisa Newman on a fielder’s choice to end the inning and keep the game tied.
However the contest would not be tied for long, as Sandy blasted the second pitch of the top of the seventh over the left field fence and just inside the foul pole for just her second longball of the year, putting the Dukes back in front. Two outs later Haley Johnson also homered to left, and following a walk, a two-run homer by Jasmine Butler increased the James Madison advantage to 6-2.
Kiefer then retired the first two Blue Hens during the bottom of the seventh, before Delaware pieced together a final rally. Grisler drilled a solo home run to center field, her second of the year, to bring the Blue Hens within three, while Coy followed with a double into the left field corner. McKinnon was then hit by a pitch as the tying run came to the plate, but after Culver hit a groundball deep into the hole, Burnham made a nice backhand play and threw to third to just nip Coy to end the game.
Kiefer, the CAA Rookie of the Year, allowed three earned runs on nine hits to pick up the victory and improve to 14-6 on the year for the Dukes. Jiao dropped to 8-25 after allowing six runs, four earned, on nine hits in 6.2 innings of work, while Hannah Rust retired the only batter she faced in the seventh.
Grisler, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection, capped her outstanding freshman campaign by going 3 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Coy also finished 3 for 4 on the day, while Culver was 1 for 4 with the two runs batted in.