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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Left fielder Bethaney Wells hit a two-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to help lead North Carolina State to a 2-0 win over the James Madison softball team in the opening game of the Knoxville Regional in NCAA Tournament play on Friday.
The loss drops JMU to 41-16 on the season and into the losers' bracket of regional play. The Dukes face the loser of the game between seventh-seeded Tennessee and Longwood at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of that game advances to the second elimination game at 6:30 p.m. to determine who advances to the regional final. N.C. State won its 13th consecutive game, improving to 34-18-1 and advances to the winners' bracket game at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Right-hander Emily Weiman earned the win for the Wolfpack to improve to 32-16 on the season. She tossed a three-hit shutout in seven innings of work. The sophomore struck out one and did not walk a batter.
Freshman left-hander Jailyn Ford took the loss for the Dukes, falling to 23-6 on the season. She tossed her 22nd complete game of the year, holding her opponent to two runs on three hits in six innings. The CAA Rookie of the Year struck out five and walked two.
Ford finished the game with 204 strikeouts on the season, becoming the first player in school history to amass 200 or more strikeouts in a season.
Wells paced the Wolfpack offense, going 2-for-3 with a home run, two RBIs and a run scored. Second baseman Chelsea Tate added a single in two trips to the plate while shortstop Renada Davis and designated player Hanna Sommer drew walks.
Sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath, freshman catcher Erica Field and Ford recorded hits for Madison. Ford and Heath went 1-for-3 with singles while Field had a base hit in two at-bats.
The only runs of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning on Wells' two-run homer. Sommer started the rally by drawing a one-out walk and was pinch run for by Katie Mansilla. Ford got the next batter to strike out, but Wells drove a 1-1 pitch the other way for her eighth homer of the season.
Weiman retired the Dukes in order in the top of the seventh as she never let the tying run come to the plate.
This was JMU's second appearance in the NCAA tournament after receiving the Colonial Athletic Association's automatic bid back in 2009. That season the Dukes also played in the Knoxville Regional and played against the University of Tennessee and Jacksonville State.
Delaware 12, James Madison 4
HARRISONBURG -- Nick Ferdinand drove in five runs with three home runs and Delaware scored nine unanswered runs to pull away for a 12-4 victory on Friday afternoon at Bob Hannah Stadium to drop James Madison into seventh among tournament-eligible teams in the Colonial Athletic Association standings entering the final day of the season.
Delaware improved to 33-19 overall and 15-11 while JMU fell to 23-28 and 10-15 in the league. The Dukes entered the final weekend with a one and a half game lead for the last of six available tournament spots. However, Madison fell to Delaware for the second straight day and saw Hofstra sweep a doubleheader from first-place UNCW on Friday afternoon.
Hofstra sits at 11-15 entering Saturday's noon home finale against the Seahawks while Northeastern is also 11-15 with a 1 p.m. road game at Towson, which won the first two series games. JMU faces Delaware at 1 p.m. and needs a win combined with a loss by either Hofstra or Northeastern in order to continue its season. The CAA Championship is scheduled for May 22 through May 25 at JMU's Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU got early two-run home runs from junior first baseman Ty McFarland and senior third baseman Bradley Shaban to build a 4-3 lead after four innings.
However, Ferdinand's second home run tied the game in the fifth and D.J. Long's three-run home run in the sixth gave the Blue Hens the lead. Delaware added three more in the seventh and two in the eighth to pull away for the convincing decision.
Adam Davis allowed four runs on seven hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts to improve to 5-7. Redshirt sophomore Luke Drayer allowed two runs in 2/3 innings of work to take the loss and fall to 2-4.
Ferdinand finished 3-for-4 with a walk and the five RBIs. Long was 2-for-5 with three RBIs, all on the home run. E.J. Stoltzfus, Zach Lopes and Ty Warrington also had multiple hits as part of Delaware's 14-hit effort.
McFarland went 3-for-4 with two RBIs on his third home run of the season. Shaban had two hits and also had his third homer of the season with his two-run shot. They combined for five of JMU's eight hits in the game.