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James Madison Edges Liberty, 4-3

April 13, 2011
|  Harrisonburg, Va.
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Sammi Shivock

Despite leading most of the contest, Liberty ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning, and James Madison came up with a 4-3 win in the first game of Wednesday's softball doubleheader.

The Lady Flames drop to 14-18 overall, while the Dukes improve to 25-13.

The Lady Flames put pressure on the Dukes early, putting runners on first and second with one out in the first inning, after Keely McMillon drew a walk and Kelly Strickland singled to center field. But Ashley Bensinger lined out to second baseman Caitlen Manning, who tossed it to second before McMillon could return, ringing up the double play and ending the Liberty at-bat.

After a quiet JMU at-bat, the Lady Flames scored a run to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Jenny Law led off with a double to left, and scored one out later when designated player Jill Stephens singled through the right side.

The Dukes tied it up immediately. With two outs in the bottom of the second, Chel'sea Ryan reached on an infield single, then stole second. She scored on the next play, when Lori Botkin singled up the middle.

Two big hits gave Liberty a 3-1 lead in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Amber DePasquale tripled to left center, and Sammi Shivock followed up with a home run to right center. The bomb marked Shivock's fifth homer of the year.

James Madison cut that lead in half in the bottom of the fifth, scoring a run on two hits for a 3-2 score. Caitlin Sandy led off with a double to right center, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan. The Dukes then scored on a squeeze play, as Botkin laid down a bunt single for an RBI.

Liberty held onto the slim lead going into the bottom of the sixth, but when Jasmine Butler led off with a double to left center, head coach Paul Wetmore replaced starting pitcher Katrina Johnson with senior Tiffani Smith. However, the trouble continued for the Lady Flames, as Manning poked a bunt that slipped through the gap between first and second, allowing Butler to score, tying the game at 3-all.

Next, Katie Spitzer reached on a throwing error by Smith, and Manning was able to move to third. After pinch runner Lindsey Tomasz stole second, Haley Johnson popped out. But the Dukes took the lead on the next play, when Sandy reached on a fielder's choice to the catcher, as Manning was out at the plate, but Tomasz rounded third and scored on a throwing error by Strickland at second, as Bensinger had tried to catch Sandy.

The Lady Flames couldn't muster a comeback in the top of the seventh, allowing James Madison to walk away with the 4-3 win.

Shivock led the Lady Flames with two RBIs, and Stephens was 2-for-3 at the plate.

James Madison was paced by Botkin, who went 2-for-2 with two RBIs.

Olivia McPherson picked up the win in the circle, improving to 10-6 after giving up six hits and striking out four batters in the complete-game appearance.

Smith suffered the loss, giving up a hit and a run in one inning of work.

The two teams will face off again this afternoon in the second game of a non-conference doubleheader.