HARRISONBURG, Va., April 3, 2012 – Winners of five of their last eight games, including Colonial Athletic Association series wins over Drexel and UNCW, the James Madison softball team concludes a five-game home stand as it hosts in-state rival Norfolk State at Veterans Memorial Park for a doubleheader at 4 p.m on Wednesday.
After opening CAA play with a 2-1 series win at Drexel, the Dukes continued their conference success last weekend with a series sweep of UNCW at home. JMU’s talented freshman class led the way last week as rookie pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) was named the league’s Pitcher of the Week while outfielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) claimed Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season.
Madison hit .392 as a team in the series against the Seahawks with 11 extra-base hits and 23 runs scored (7.67 per game). The Dukes limited their opponent to a .133 batting average and just three runs in the series.
Junior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy) went 5-for-8 with three doubles, two runs and two RBIs while Heath and senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) each went 5-for-10 at the plate. Heath contributed three doubles, five runs and two RBIs while had a double, a home run, four runs and five RBIs.
In the circle, Kiefer and fellow freshman Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) held UNCW to just eight hits and three runs in 18 innings pitched. They had three complete games and one shutout while holding the opposition to a .133 batting average.
On the base path JMU went 8-for-8 in steal attempts while holding the Seahawks without a steal. The team also posted a .977 fielding percentage, committing just two errors in 85 fielding opportunities.
It was also a historical week for the Dukes. Burnham set a new school record for home runs with her 31st career blast in the opening game of the series. She also tied the school mark for RBIs with her 106th in the series finale and tied the mark for total bases at 341. The previous record for home runs and RBIs was held by catcher Julia Dominguez (2006-09) while Katie George (2004-07) held the mark for total bases.
In addition to the records already broken, Burnham is two hits away from moving into second on the school’s all-time list and just four hits shy of becoming only the second player in school history to reach 200 career hits. Three more doubles will tie her with George for the school’s two-base record.
Senior second baseman Caitlen Manning (Prince George, Va./Prince George) joined Burnham in the 100-hit club for the Dukes last weekend. She picked up a pair of hits in the series, including beating out an infield single to become the 20th player in school history to reach the century mark. Junior first baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) reached the century mark the week prior against Drexel while junior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) is the fourth active player to record 100 hits.
Heath is well on her way to reaching the century mark and is aided by her current 11-game hitting streak. It is the third-longest hitting streak by a JMU freshman. She trails only the 14-game streak by George in 2004 and the 13-game mark posted by Briana Carrera (2003-06) in 2003.
With two more wins JMU head coach Katie Flynn will earn her 300th win at Madison. The only coach in school history, Flynn enters Wednesday’s doubleheader with a 298-272 record at the school and also sports a 458-446 career record in 18 seasons as a head coach.
SCOUTING NORFOLK STATE
The Spartans enter the week with a 12-15 overall record after sweeping a doubleheader against North Carolina Central last week. Over the weekend they were scheduled to play Howard in a three-game series, but those games were cancelled.
NSU is hitting .260 as a team led by reigning MEAC Rookie of the Week Haley Ward. Ward is batting .395 with seven doubles, one home run, 16 runs and 10 RBIs. She’s also added nine walks and three stolen bases in four attempts. Alina Moriarty has added 27 hits for a .360 batting average while contributing one double, one home run, 11 RBIs and seven runs. Whitney Holland leads the team with three home runs and 12 RBIs and Morgan Boyd is a perfect 10-for-10 in steal attempts this season.
Liz Riley and Jamie Schulle have handled all the pitching duties in the circle for Norfolk State. Riley is 6-8 with a 2.46 ERA in 13 games started this year. She has five complete games, two shutouts and has struck out 37 in 88 1/3 innings pitched. Schulle is 6-7 with a 3.43 ERA in 14 games started. She has seven complete games, two shutouts and 67 strikeouts in 94 innings pitched.
Heidi Cavallo is in her second season as the head coach in Norfolk. She has compiled a 33-40 record at the helm for the Spartans.
JMU and NSU have met 10 times since 2002 with JMU holding an 8-2 edge in the all-time series. The Dukes have won six straight in the series, including sweeping a doubleheader in Norfolk a year ago. Burnham paced the Madison offense on the day, going 5-for-8 with two runs and a RBI.
Madison pitchers Cara Stecher (New Castle, Del./Caravel Academy) and Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) each tossed complete games to aid in the win. Jeans struck out the first seven batters in game two and eight of the first nine, on her way to setting a JMU-freshman record with 13 strikeouts in the game. She scattered two hits and walked one to earn her first career shutout.
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