JMU roundup: Ford powers JMU past Hokies in softball

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

BLACKSBURG – Sophomore pitcher/first baseman Jailyn Ford earned a win and a save in the circle and hit two home runs at the plate to help power the James Madison softball team to a doubleheader sweep of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Wednesday.

JMU swept a doubleheader from Virginia Tech for the first time in school history. It improved to 25-11 on the season and 9-4 all-time against the Hokies. Tech had its three-game winning streak snapped as it fell to 19-16 overall.

Ford earned the save in game two after coming in to throw three innings of shutout relief. She limited Tech to two hits and a walk in earning her second save of the year. Junior pitcher Heather Kiefer picked up the win to improve to 11-5 on the season. The right-hander gave up four runs, two earned, on six hits in four innings of work. She struck out one and did not walk a batter.

Three pitchers combined to give up nine runs for Virginia Tech, six of which were earned. Maggie Tyler took the loss after allowing five runs on five hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings of work.

Offensively, Ford went 3-for-4 with two home runs, three RBIs and two runs scored to power the Dukes. Sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes contributed two hits, a double and two RBIs in four at-bats while senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton went 1-for-2 with a home run.

Second baseman Kylie McGoldrick smacked a homer as part of a 2-for-4 showing with two RBIs and a run scored that set the tone offensively for the Hokies. Designated player Logan Spaw added a double and a single in three trips to the plate while Amanda Ake recorded a single in her only at-bat of the game.

JMU scored two runs in the top of the first in game two, marking the sixth straight game it opened the scoring. Sophomore catcher Erica Field jumpstarted the stanza with a two-out double to left field before Ford smashed a two-run homer off the scoreboard in right-center for the 2-0 advantage.

The lead climbed to 5-0 in the top of the second as Madison loaded the bases on singles by freshman outfielders Taylor Newton and Mimi Morris sandwiched around a Tech throwing error. Freshman center fielder Niki Prince worked a bases loaded walk before Hayes capped the inning with a two-run single to center.

VT took advantage of two JMU errors in the bottom of the second to cut into the Madison lead with two unearned runs before the Dukes got both runs back with two unearned runs of their own in the top of the third. Prince had an RBI single in the inning while Newton led off the frame with a single and scored a run.

Ford added her second home run of the game, a solo shot, in the top of the fourth. She moved into a tie for fourth on JMU’s all-time home run list with her 20th, tying former catcher Katie Spitzer (2007-11). She also moved into a tie for the team lead with her fifth home run of the season.

McGoldrick went the other way for a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to 8-4. Gaskill scored on the play after leading off the inning with a double.

Clayton finished the day’s scoring with her first career home run in the top of the seventh. It was a solo shot down the right field line.

In game one, the Dukes jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings and kept the Hokies at bay the remainder of the game to pick up the 5-2 win. Ford tossed 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief to earn the win, improving to 14-6. She walked one and struck out one while holding VT without a hit. Kiefer drew the start and received a no-decision. She gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings of work.

Kelly Heinz took the loss for Virginia Tech, falling to 10-11. She gave up four runs on eight hits in four innings pitched. The right-hander struck out five and walked two. Tyler ceded one run on two hits and struck out three in three innings of relief.

Offensively, JMU was paced by Field. She went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run. Ford had two hits, a RBI and a run in four at-bats while senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy went 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and a RBI.

Three players recorded hits for the Hokies paced by third baseman Dani Anderson going 1-for-1 with a RBI and two walks. McGoldrick went 1-for-3 with a run scored and shortstop Lauren Gaskill singled in four trips to the plate.

JMU struck for three runs to open the scoring in the top of the third inning. Hayes initiated the inning with a one-out triple to right-center and came in to score on a single to right by Field. Freshman pinch runner Carli Lemelin stole second and came in to score on a single to right by Ford before Sandy capped the frame with a double to right-center, scoring Ford from first.

The Hokies responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth to chase Kiefer from the contest. McGoldrick led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on fielder’s choice. After catcher Katey Smith was hit by a pitch, Anderson singled through the right side, scoring McGoldrick. Ford came in to relieve Kiefer, but center fielder Amanda Ake dropped down a perfect squeeze bunt to bring in Tech’s second run of the inning. Ford avoided further damage by getting designated player Logan Spaw to ground out to third.

Madison stretched the lead back to two in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Newton. JMU led off the inning with three straight singles by Field, Ford and Sandy to chase Heinz from the game. Newton worked a 1-1 count before lofting a fly ball to deep right field for her team-leading fourth sacrifice fly of the year.

Field third hit of the game, a RBI double down the line in right, scored Morris to push the lead to 5-2 in the top of the sixth.

The Dukes return to conference action this weekend as they host Towson at Veterans Memorial Park for a three-game series. First pitch for Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for 3 p.m. while Sunday’s game begins at 2 p.m.