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HARRISONBURG - Junior right-hander Chris Huffman and freshman left-hander Michael Evans combined to limit Northeastern to seven hits and a pair of early runs in James Madison's 3-2 win in the opener of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Friday night at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU won its third consecutive league game to improve to 7-8 in the CAA and 16-29 overall. The Dukes remain in fifth place with five conference games remaining but gained a cushion of one and a half games on sixth-place Hofstra and Northeastern, which fell to 6-10 in the league and 21-25 overall.
Huffman allowed a pair of early runs in the second and third innings but then battled through seven innings to improve to 5-6. He allowed two runs on seven hits with five walks while matching his season high with eight strikeouts. Evans picked up his first career save after allowing just a walk in two innings with one strikeout.
After falling behind 2-0, the Dukes struck for runs in the third, fourth and fifth to charge ahead and held on behind the pitching of Huffman and Evans, who combined to strand 10 Northeastern runners on the bases.
Senior third baseman Ty McFarland, who moved into the career top 10 in at bats with 730, paced the JMU offense by going 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Redshirt sophomore shortstop Kyle Weston had two hits with a run and an RBI.
Nick Berger took the loss for the Huskies to fall to 2-5 after allowing three runs, two earned, on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Catcher Josh Treff was the lone Northeastern batter with multiple hits. Third baseman Cam Hanley had a solo home run.
The visitors struck first in the second on Hanley's leadoff solo shot to right center against a stiff wind blowing to left. The Huskies added a second run in the third inning when a hit by pitch and single were followed by first baseman Brad Burcroff's RBI single to make it 2-0.
JMU started the third with two singles and two walks but had nothing to show for it as one out was registered on the bases. With the bases loaded, Weston put the Dukes on the board with an RBI groundout.
The Dukes struck again in the fourth to tie the score with a two-out rally. Freshman left fielder Josh Wyatt singled and junior center fielder Kevin Husum walked after a pair of quick outs. McFarland then hit his third single of the game, a hard shot through the left side to drive in the tying run.
Madison pushed two runners into scoring position in the fifth with a Weston single and a Tyler Gregory double struck through the right side. Sophomore catcher Bobby San Martin grounded out to third to give JMU a 3-2 lead after its third straight inning scoring a run.
Game two of the series will be Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. with senior recognition before first pitch. Sunday's senior finale was moved ahead one hour to a 1 p.m. start.
HARRISONBURG - Junior right-hander Heather Kiefer tossed six innings of shutout relief as the James Madison softball team won its second Colonial Athletic Association Championship, knocking off fourth-seeded Towson, 4-0, at Veterans Memorial Park, Friday.
JMU went 3-0 in the tournament, allowing one earned run in 21 innings of work to claim their first league title since 2009. The Dukes extended their winning streak to 15 games. They improved to 44-13 overall and find out their NCAA Tournament destination on Sunday. The NCAA selection show airs at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.
Towson finishes its season 29-25.
Kiefer earned the win in the circle for JMU to improve to 20-7 on the season. She allowed three hits and struck out three in six innings of work. Sophomore left-hander Jailyn Ford walked two and struck out one in an inning of work.
Towson's Missy McCormick took the loss, falling to 17-11 on the year. She allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings pitched. The right-hander struck out one and walked one.
Senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after finishing the week hitting .556 (5-for-9) with two doubles and three RBIs. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by Ford, sophomore catcher Erica Field and sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes.
Sandy went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs on Friday to pace the Madison attack. Hayes contributed two hits in three at-bats while freshman left fielder Tahli Moore went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Towson got hits from catcher Holiday Cahill, first baseman Courtney Johnson and right fielder Maureen Hepner with Hepner's knock being a double. McCormick and third baseman Delanie Dunham drew walks in three plate appearances apiece.
JMU opened the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the third. Moore led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. McCormick retired the next two batters before walking Field. Ford followed with a single to left field scoring Moore from second after she avoided the tag from Cahill with an impressive slide. Sandy capped the rally with a double into shallow center field, scoring freshman pinch runner Caitlin Viafora and Ford on the play.
The Dukes tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning. Freshman right fielder Taylor Newton led off with a double to left-center and came in to score on a RBI single by senior first baseman Cassidy Clayton.
Towson's best threat came in the top of the second inning. The Tigers loaded the bases on two walks and a bunt single. Kiefer entered the game and got left fielder Jessica South to ground into a double play before erasing the threat with a strikeout.
From there the right-hander scattered two more hits, but only once allowed a runner to reach scoring position.
HARRISONBURG - Incoming freshman guard Joey McLean signed a national letter of intent to join the James Madison men's basketball program for the 2014-15 season as announced by head coach Matt Brady on Friday.
Brady noted of his newcomer, "We're excited to have him in the program. He brings an element of terrific speed. He's the fastest guy in our program since I've been here. He's an outstanding long-range shooter and has an ability to get into the lane. He's played both with the ball as a point guard and off the ball, because he is such a dynamic scoring point guard."
McLean arrives at JMU from North Carolina and was the high school teammate of current rising sophomore guard Jackson Kent at High Point Christian Academy. The 6-foot, 160-pound McLean lives in neighboring Greensboro.
HPCA's all-time leading scorer with 1,067 points in three seasons, McLean picked up All-State and All-Conference recognition as a senior. The guard averaged 19.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals and 2.6 assists while pacing the Cougars to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) state semifinals with a 22-6 overall record.
In addition to his 1,067 points with the Cougars, McLean also used his speed to accumulate 237 steals in 92 career games. He scored 549 points with 98 steals and 74 assists as a senior. He also totaled 286 points, 88 assists and 84 steals as a junior playing alongside Kent and 232 points with 54 assists and 55 steals as a sophomore in 2011-12.
McLean is the fourth newcomer for the 2014-15 squad, joining junior college guard Winston Grays of Cleveland, Ohio, high school forward Hari Hall of Jacksonville, Florida and high school guard Dante Sterling of Atlanta, Georgia.