No. 18 JMU fends off ECU Softball, 3-1

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (ECU) – The ECU softball team fought tooth and nail with No. 18 JMU Sunday in the Pirate Invitational finale, getting the potential winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but the Dukes hung tight for a 3-1 non-conference victory at the ECU Softball Stadium.

JMU, which downed Boston College 9-0 in five innings earlier in the day, improves to 5-2 overall while the Pirates drop to 8-3.

2017 NFCA National Player-of-the-Year Megan Good (3-1) willed her team to victory, clubbing the winning two-run home run while also tossing a complete game with 10 strikeouts in the circle. Erin Poepping (6-2) was solid for the home side herself, throwing her sixth complete game of the season in nine appearances while surrendering three runs on 10 hits with six strikeouts.

Kate Gordon, Cambry Arnold and Hannah File combined for six of the Dukes’ 10 hits. Gordon and Arnold both scored a run and File added a RBI. Tate McClellan and Abigail Umphlett both posted two-hit efforts for ECU and Olivia Narron notched the Pirates’ lone RBI.

After Poepping worked around a leadoff double in the top of the first, ECU put together a prime opportunity to strike first in the home half. Tyler King reached on a throwing error and scampered to second before McClellan tapped an infield single to give the Pirates runners on the corners with one away. A two-out walk to Ashley Weingartz loaded up the bases for Logan Wood who ripped a ball towards right center, but the second baseman was able to snare the liner and keep the game scoreless.

Both sides scrapped and clawed through the middle innings, unable to dent the scoreboard until the fifth. Arnold laid down a bunt single and moved to second on a groundout. With two away, Good took a 0-1 offering and lifted it into the wind gust in center. The ball drifted over the wall and just out of the reach of King to give JMU a 2-0 advantage.

ECU answered in the bottom of the sixth. The first career triple off the bat of Umphlett led to a Narron RBI single with two outs that cut the Dukes’ lead in half at 2-1.

Poepping held the visitors off the board in the top of the seventh and the Pirates mounted one last charge. Ashleigh Inae was hit by a pitch and McClellan walked to give ECU a pair of base runners with no outs. After a strikeout, a fielding error allowed Weingartz to reach second and pinch runner Faith Jarvis to move to third. Wood put up a great battle, extending her at-bat to eight pitches before striking out on the ninth to end the game.

The Pirates remain at home next weekend (March 1-3), welcoming Columbia, Massachusetts, and Winthrop to the ECU Softball Stadium for the Purple-Gold Invitational.