Feb. 16, 2014
JMU 5, UIC 3
ORLANDO, Fla. – On the last day of the UCF/Holiday Inn Classic, the UIC softball team (1-9) could not come back in the final innings as it fell to James Madison, 5-3, on Sunday at the UCF Softball Complex. Seniors Jacki Fletcher and Natalie Hernandez both produced a pair of hits for the Flames, with senior Jenna Marsalli and sophomore Laura Swan also contributing to the hit total.
“Today we took a step in the right direction,” head coach Michelle Venturella said. “We need to play the way we practice and that will help us be more consistent. We are already looking forward to playing next weekend in Jacksonville.”
UIC picked up a quick hit in the first inning, when Fletcher singled to left center in her first at bat, but she would be left on base.
After the Dukes got on the board in the second with a two-run homer by Taylor Newton, the Flames came within one in the third as Hernandez singled to right and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by junior Eleni Polites before scoring on a double by Fletcher.
James Madison would come back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third after a double, single and triple brought in two, and another in the fourth with the run scoring on an error. With two on and no outs in the bottom of the fifth, Hernandez made a jumping grab and tossed the ball to Fletcher on second to record the double play before the Dukes flew out to right to end the inning without any runs scored.
Following a walk by Fletcher in the sixth, Marsalli hit her sixth double of the season and fifth of the weekend down the right field line to advance Fletcher to third. Swan then singled up the middle, allowing Fletcher to score and Marsalli to move to third, with Swan advancing to second on the throw home. Senior Courtney Heeley then ground out to second, bringing Marsalli in for the second run of the inning.
The Flames tried to make their final push in the seventh. After freshman Kelly Kennedy was hit by a pitch, Hernandez singled up the middle before the runners advanced on another sac bunt by Polites, but the runners were ultimately left stranded.
Freshman Elaine Heflin pitched through five innings, striking out five batters and walking just one, before sophomore Bridget Boyle came in to finish the game and recorded one strikeout in one inning.
The Flames return to Florida next weekend to compete in the Jacksonville University Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., with competition scheduled to begin on Friday against Savannah State at 10:45 a.m. CT and host Jacksonville at 3:15 p.m. at the JU Softball Complex.