JMU roundup: Dukes advance to CAA softball championship game

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG – Sophomore pitcher Jailyn Ford twirled a one-hit shutout and senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy collected three hits to lead the James Madison softball team to an 8-0 win over Hofstra in the winners’ bracket game of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship at Veterans Memorial Park on Thursday.

JMU advances to Friday’s championship game where it awaits the survivor on Thursday’s two elimination games. First pitch is scheduled for noon at Veterans Memorial Park.

The Dukes won their 14th consecutive game to improve to 43-13 overall and 4-0 this season against Hofstra. The 43 wins is a school record, surpassing the mark set a season ago. Hofstra drops to 33-12 and played in an elimination game Thursday evening.

Ford dominated in the circle for Madison, giving up a lead-off single on the game’s first pitch before setting down the next 19 batters she faced. In total, she allowed one hit and a walk to improve to 23-6 on the season. She tied her own school record with ninth shutout of the season and the 18th of her career. The left-hander struck out four to move into second on the school’s all-time list with 427, passing Jenny Clohan (2006-09).

Morgan Lashley picked up the loss for Hofstra, falling to 17-5 this year. She allowed six runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings of work. The right-hander struck out two and walked one. Taylor Pirone pitched the final 3 2/3 frames, ceding two runs on three hit. She struck out one.

Sandy’s three hits came in four at-bats, adding a double, a run and a RBI. Ford added a hit, a walk and two runs in three trips to the plate. The walk was her 32nd of the season, tying the school’s single-season record held by former catcher Julia Dominguez (2006-09). Freshman outfielder Taylor Newton went 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.

Hofstra’s lone hit came from center fielder Rachael Senatore who finished the day 1-for-3. Catcher Erin Trippi was the only other batter to reach base with a walk in the seventh inning.

The Dukes opened the scoring in the top of the second inning as Ford got the ball rolling with a single to left field. She stole second and came in to score on a double down the left field line by Sandy. Sandy moved up to third on a fly-out and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton.

Freshman center fielder Niki Prince extended the lead to 3-0 with a solo home run in the top of the third before Newton made it 6-0 with a three-run homer in the fourth. For Prince it was her sixth homer of the season while Newton smacked her seventh of the year and her fourth against Hofstra.

Sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes tripled in a run in the top of the seventh and came in to score on a sacrifice fly from sophomore catcher Erica Field. It was Field’s fifth sac fly of the year and the ninth of her career, both numbers tying the school record.

Ford gave up a walk with one out in the bottom of the seventh, ending a stretch of 19 straight batters retired, but faced no further trouble, ending the game with a pop-out.

Women’s basketball

HARRISONBURG — James Madison women’s basketball signed point guard Candice Williams to a National Letter of Intent, head coach Kenny Brooks announced on Thursday.

Williams is three-star recruit from Alpharetta, Georgia, where she attends St. Francis High School. She led the Lady Knights to the Class A private school state basketball championship in 2013 and the Region 6A title in 2014, finishing 25-4 in her final season. According to ESPN, she is ranked 64th among point guards nationally.

During her senior campaign, Williams averaged 13.6 points per game with 2.2 assists per game and 2. 5 steals per game. A captain in 2013-14, she was named to Class A All-State First Team by the Georgia Sportswriters Association.

Williams played AAU basketball with the Essence Girls Basketball program, the same travel team that fielded sophomores Destiny Jones and Precious Hall. She also lettered in volleyball at St. Francis.