FAIRFAX, Va., April 7, 2012 – A trio of freshman pitchers combined to limit George Mason to three runs over 14 innings and senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) and sophomore third baseman Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) each homered to lead the James Madison softball team to a doubleheader sweep over their in-state rivals on Saturday. JMU won game one 4-1 at the George Mason Softball Complex before taking the nightcap 9-2.
The Dukes extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games to improve to 19-20 on the season and 7-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Patriots dropped their fourth straight to fall to 10-28 and 4-4 in league play.
In game two, freshman pitchers Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) and Reba DePriest (Apache Junction, Ariz./Skyline) limited Mason to two runs on eight hits and five walks. Mooney picked up the win to improve to 6-8. She gave up both runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three. DePriest tossed two innings of no-hit, shutout relief. She struck out one and walked two.
Four different pitchers appeared in the game for GMU. Miranda Cranford drew the start, taking the loss to fall to 0-6. She allowed two runs on three hits in two innings pitched. Tiffany Harvell pitched two innings of relief, giving up four runs on three hits and two walks while Jamie Rice ceded three runs, two earned, on three hits in 2 1/3 innings of relief. Amanda Buffington cleaned up the final 2/3 of an inning, allowing no runs on one hit.
Sandy paced the Madison offense in game two, going 3-for-3 with a home run, a career-high three runs scored and two RBIs. Mooney chipped in two hits, including a double, two runs and a RBI in four plate appearances while junior first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) went 1-for-4 with a two-run double.
Right fielder Megan Blank led the Patriots with a 2-for-3 showing, adding a double and a RBI. Second baseman Brooke Blankenship contributed a double and a run scored in four at-bats while center fielder Tori Dudley went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.
The Dukes struck for the game’s first two runs in the top of the second inning. Sandy led off with a bunt single and moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt. A single to center by senior second baseman Caitlen Manning (Prince George, Va./Prince George) scored the sophomore from second. Manning moved to second on a groundout and came around to score on a double to left-center by junior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange).
Mason got a run back in the bottom half of the inning on a bases loaded walk by left fielder Alyssa See. The Patriots loaded the bases on back-to-back two-out singles by third baseman Tori Rodriguez and designated player Tiffany Webb and a walk by Dudley.
JMU broke the game up with a five-run fifth inning. After freshman left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) reached on an error to lead off the inning, Burnham was intentionally walked to put two runners on with nobody out. Johnson made Mason pay for choosing to avoid Burnham, drilling a two-run double to right field. Following the double, freshman pinch runner Haley Widner (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready) moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a double by Mooney. Rice came in to relieve Harvell, but immediately gave up a two-run homer to left-center field to Sandy to cap the frame.
It was the first home run of the season for Sandy and the second of her career.
Another two-out rally by GMU pulled them to within 7-2 as Blank doubled to right field to score Blankenship from second. Blankenship led off the inning by doubling to left-center.
A two-out, two-run single by sophomore pinch hitter Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough) rounded out the scoring for JMU. Mooney and Sandy came around to score after reaching on an error and singling, respectively.
In game one, freshman right-hander Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) improved to 4-0 in conference play and 7-3 overall with a complete-game effort. She limited her opponents to one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five.
Stephanie Maher took the loss to drop to 4-7. She allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk while striking out two.
Burnham paced the Madison offense, going 2-for-2 with a home run, a run, two RBIs and a walk. Junior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored while sophomore right fielder Anna Klumpp (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) picked up a single and two RBIs in three at-bats.
Dudley led the Patriots with a 2-for-3 performance in the game. Shortstop Rachel Davies went 1-for-2 with a walk while Blank added a single in three trips to the plate.
JMU grabbed the lead in the top of the third inning with a pair of two-out hits. Heath beat out an infield single to the pitcher to extend the inning. Burnham followed with a two-run home run to left field to put Madison up 2-0. It was the ninth home run of the season for the senior and her 33rd career blast. It was also the 200th career hit for Burnham, making her just the 2nd player in school history to reach the 200-hit mark.
Heath’s single extended her hitting streak to 14 games, tying her for the third-longest hitting streak in school history and the longest by a JMU freshman (Katie George – 2004).
Klumpp extended the JMU lead to 4-0 in the top of the seventh, driving in a pair of unearned runs. Shinaberry ignited the two-out rally with a double to left-center field. She moved to third on a fielding error that allowed Manning to reach base. Manning stole second before Klumpp singled through the right side, scoring both runners.
Mason got a run back in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez, but Kiefer got pinch hitter Reagon Doiron to fly out to end the game.
The Dukes and Patriots conclude their three-game series on Sunday with a noon game at the George Mason Softball Complex.
# # #