HARRISONBURG, Va., Feb. 27, 2012 – After spending its first two weekends of play in North Carolina, the James Madison softball team opens up its home schedule on Tuesday as it welcomes Radford into Veterans Memorial Park. First pitch for the doubleheader is set for 3 p.m.
Tuesday marks the start of the third season for JMU at Veterans Memorial with the team boasting an 11-5 mark at home a year ago. Overall they are 2-0 in their home openers in the recently-built stadium and 9-1 all-time in home openers.
Last weekend, the Dukes played four games against a pair of Big Ten opponents, going 3-1 at the Carolina Classic. They dropped both games against Minnesota while splitting a pair of decisions against Penn State. In Sunday’s finale, Madison overcame a pair of PSU rallies to upend the 2011 NCAA Tournament participant 10-8 in nine innings.
Freshman Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) earned the win after pitching 3 1/3 innings of one-hit relief to improve to 2-2 on the year. She also hit her first career home run while finishing the weekend hitting .286 with four runs and three RBIs.
Junior first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) added a .364 average with a run and two RBIs while senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) added five hits, including two doubles and a home run, four runs and two RBIs.
Rookie outfielders Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) and Haley Widner (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready) each offered big contributions during the week. Heath hit .357 with a run and two RBIs, while Widner made her first career start on Sunday and went 2-for-5 with her first career RBI.
As a team, the Dukes stole six bases in eight attempts, including a 4-for-4 weekend from junior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange). Junior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) threw out two of five would-be base stealers to keep the opponents running game in check.
Tuesday’s action is scheduled to be broadcast live on MadiZONE free audio.
The Highlanders come into the weekend with a 2-3 overall record after going 2-2 at last weekend’s Eagle Classic hosted by George Southern. They defeated Georgia Southern and Jacksonville State while dropping decisions to Kentucky and Albany. In its season opener, RU fell to local rival Virginia Tech, 9-1. This season the team is 1-1 in true road games.
The Highlanders are led by senior Nichole Beall who is hitting .467 with a triple, two home runs, six runs scored and three RBIs. She posts a .500 on-base percentage and is slugging 1.000. Junior Ryndee Ruch adds a .333 batting average with a double, a run and four RBIs. As a team RU is hitting .225 with a .307 on-base percentage and a .235 slugging percentage. It has stolen 13 bases in 17 attempts while holding opponents to just one steal in two attempts.
In the circle, Jackie Jenkins has appeared in four of the five games for Radford. She is 1-0 with a 1.70 ERA. She has allowed eight runs, but just three of them are earned, on 13 hits in 12 1/3 innings pitched. The junior has struck out five against just one walk and is limiting opponents to a .250 batting average against. Freshman Emily Norton is 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 9 2/3 innings pitched.
Mickey Dean is in his sixth season at the helm for Radford. He is a three-time Big South Coach of the Year and has compiled a 209-98 record as a head coach. He guided the Highlanders to back-to-back appearances in NCAA Tournament play by winning the Big South tournament in 2009 and 2010.
JMU and Radford have met 18 times since 2002 with the Highlanders holding a slight 11-7 edge in the all-time series. RU has won three of the last four meetings, including a split between the teams in Radford a year ago. JMU is just 2-6 all-time against the Highlanders in Harrisonburg.
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