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HARRISONBURG -- Freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the James Madison softball team a walk-off win over Virginia Tech at Veterans Memorial Park on Wednesday.
The Dukes split the non-conference doubleheader with the Hokies, losing game one 5-2 before rebounding with a 2-1 win in game two.
JMU has won four of its last five games to improve to 28-10 overall. Virginia Tech, which was receiving votes in both Division I Coaches Polls, ran its record to 24-10.
Ford ignited the heroics in the bottom of the seventh of game two by beating out an infield single to lead off the frame. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before senior designated player Megan Shinaberry grounded out to third base. Ford took third on the throw to first and came in to score when the attempt to throw her out at third went wild.
Ford earned the win in the circle for Madison, improving to 15-2 and establishing a JMU freshman record for wins in a season. She limited Tech to one run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven in a complete-game effort.
Jasmin Harrell took the loss to drop to 10-6 for the Hokies. She allowed two unearned runs on four hits. The right-hander struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Ford collected two of the four Madison hits to spark the offense. She went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy contributed a hit and a sacrifice bunt in three trips to the plate while senior third baseman Haley Johnson went 1-for-2 with a single.
Five players recorded hits for Virginia Tech led by designated player Logan Spaw who went 1-for-3 with a RBI. First baseman Courtney Liddle was 1-for-2 with a walk and third baseman Dani Anderson added a hit and a walk in three plate appearances.
The Dukes took the lead in the bottom of the first by capitalizing on two VT errors. Senior center fielder Jasmine Butler started the frame by reaching on an error by the second baseman. She stole second and moved to third on the Hokie's second fielding error of the inning. In the ensuing at bat, sophomore right fielder Sarah Mooney faked like she was stealing second, drawing a throw from the catcher that allowed Butler to swipe home.
The Hokies tied the score with a two-out single by Spaw in the top of the sixth. Center fielder Lauren Gaskill drew a one-out walk to start the rally. A fielder's choice retired Gaskill at second, but a single by Liddle prolonged the inning. Spaw came through with the big hit for Tech, lofting a single into the space between the second baseman and right-fielder, allowing second baseman Kylie McGoldrick to race home with the tying run. The Hokies drew one more walk in the inning to load up the bases, but Ford got pinch hitter Kelly Heinz to foul out to end the threat.
Heinz earned the win for VT in game one as she went the distance to improve to 12-3. She allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. The right-hander struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.
Sophomore right-hander Heather Kiefer took the loss for Madison, dropping to 9-5. She allowed five unearned runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Sophomore Miranda Kemp pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, limiting Tech to just two hits.
Anderson paced the Hokie attack in the game, going 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Spaw added a double and three RBIs in four at bats while McGoldrick went 2-for-4 with a RBI.
Sandy went 2-for-3 with a double to lead JMU. Left fielder Morgan Heath added a single, a run and a stolen base while freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes went 1-for-2 with a RBI.
Madison jumped ahead in the game in the bottom of the fourth inning on a RBI double by Field. Heath led off the inning with a single to center. She stole second and came around to score as Field lined the first pitch of her at-bat into right-center for a double.
The Hokies came back to take the lead with five runs in the top of the fifth. All five runs were unearned as VT took advantage of three JMU fielding errors. Anderson started the rally with a one-out double to right-center and moved to third on a ground-out. Kiefer had a chance to get out of the inning by inducing a ground ball, but the Dukes misplayed the ball for an error allowing the first run of the inning to score. Gaskill followed with a single up the middle before McGoldrick plated the go-ahead run with a single to make it 2-1. A walk by first baseman Courtney Liddle loaded the bases to set up a three-run double to center by Spaw.
A two-out bunt single by Hayes allowed JMU to cut into the lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth, but the Dukes got no closer as the Hokies held on for the 5-2 win.
JMU returns to Colonial Athletic Association play this weekend as it hosts George Mason at Veterans Memorial Park for a three-game series. The Dukes and Patriots square off in a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday and conclude the series on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m.