Riding an impressive showing at the USF Under Armour Showcase where they won three out of five, the Radford University softball team returned home for a doubleheader against the James Madison University Dukes on Wednesday, March 16.
Falling 5-4 in the first game, the Highs bounced back to take the second game 2-1 with a walk-off single by senior Lauren Williams.
The rally started after freshman Jessie Hutchens and junior Hannah Ojeda hit back-to-back singles to set up Williams’ game-winning hit. Williams slapped the ball into centerfield, letting sophomore pinch runner Morgan Eye to score from second.
Helping the Highs on the defensive side was sophomore relief pitcher Jackie Jenkins. Allowing just four hits over five innings, she struck out two and did not walk a batter to improve to 5-0.
Working out of trouble with Dukes on first and third and one out, Jenkins struck out the next batter she faced and forced JMU’s best hitter to ground out to end the inning unscathed.
An unearned run by the Dukes in the third put them up 1-0, but RU’s deficit was quickly erased after an RBI single from senior Taylor Cunningham.
After splitting the series with JMU, the Highs hosted the Radford Invitational tournament where they welcomed universities such as Georgetown, Ball State, Delaware, Pittsburgh and Robert Morris.
Opening the tournament with games against Pittsburgh and Robert Morris, the Highs fell to Pittsburgh in their opening game before routing Robert Morris 5-0.
Starting the game for the Highs, Jenkins threw a complete game shutout that cruised to the easy win. In the game, Jenkins struck out two batters and walked two as she earned her first collegiate shutout and improved to 6-0 on the season.
The Highs started the scoring in the fifth as they plated three runs without a hit or an error. Senior Kristen Shifflett, making her first appearance since Feb. 13, knocked in the second run with a grounder to the shortstop.
Junior Michelle Beall made it 4-0 in the sixth as she hit an RBI triple to finish off the scoring for the Highs.
Continuing their strong outing from Friday night, the Highs took down Ball State and Georgetown in consecutive games on Saturday, March 19.
The Highs took advantage of a four-run fourth inning to rally past the Cardinals in their first game of the day. The four-run inning was started with a two-run double from junior Meredith Moore.
The lead was cut when Ball State added two runs to the scoreboard. Then in the sixth, the Cardinals added another run to bring them within one, but that’s as close as they would get all afternoon.
Senior Kellie Snooks entered the game and earned her first save of the season as she shutout Ball State in her two innings of relief. Freshman Stephanie Dameron started the game and went 4.2 innings. She improved her record to 7-2 as she allowed just two runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
Against Georgetown, senior Chelsea Kelley was in complete control of the Hoya hitters. She went five innings and allowed just one hit, gave up one walk and struck out a batter. Snooks entered the game and finished off the game with one inning of work.
Junior Nichole Beall went 2-for-3 in the contest and had three RBI.
RU wrapped up its Radford Invitational tournament with another win against Delaware on Sunday, Mar. 20.
Leading the way for the Highs was Nichole Beall as she went 4-for-4 with five RBI as RU routed Delaware, 9-0. She recorded a home run and two doubles in the game against Delaware. Her impressive weekend (.625, 10 hits, 8 RBI, 4 doubles) earned her the offensive MVP award for this weekend’s tournament.
Shifflett, just back from an injury that’s kept her sidelined for a month, found her swing with a 3-for-4 performance including a double, three runs scored and two RBI for the Highs.
Jenkins was named the Co-Pitching MVP after earning her second complete game shutout. She gave up six hits and struck out three as she improved her record to 7-0.
The Highs will take a four game winning streak back to RU with them as they get set to take on the Liberty Flames on Wednesday, March 23 at 3 p.m.