HARRISONBURG, Va., March 1, 2012 — After a two-game sweep by Radford on Tuesday in the home-opener doubleheader at Veterans Memorial Park, the James Madison softball team looks to rebound this weekend with a trip to the UMBC Retriever Classic in Baltimore, Md. The Dukes will play five games in the three-day tournament, including twice against Iona, and single games against Niagara, Canisius and Princeton. The Princeton game will be held on the campus of Coppin State University.
Senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) led the Dukes offensively on Tuedsay with three hits, two runs and four RBIs. After hitting her third home run of the season and 27th of her career, Burnham is now three homeruns shy of tying the JMU record for homeruns scored. She has progressed to hold second place in the record books for total bases with a current total of 294 and holds the JMU record for most consecutive games started with 169 games.
Freshman outfielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) also contributed offensively, going 2-for-3 and scoring Burnham to earn her fifth RBI of the season in game two.
JMU’s trio of freshman pitchers—Reba DePriest (Apache Junction, Ariz./Skyline), Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) and Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg)—have pitched a combined total of 58 1/3 innings in the first nine games of the season. Mooney leads the other pitchers so far this season with the most appearances, innings pitched and batters struck out. DePriest and Mooney each recorded a loss during the competition against Radford and look to improve their numbers this weekend as the starting pitchers for the Dukes.
This weekend, the Diamond Dukes will play five games, beginning Friday at 9:15 a.m. against Iona and continuing with an 11:25 a.m. matchup against Canisius. The Dukes will take the field again Saturday for an 11:25 a.m. game against Niagara, a 3:10 p.m. contest with Princeton and a final game Sunday against Iona at 11:25 a.m.
Since 2002, the Dukes have a 6-1 overall record against the four teams they will face this weekend. On neutral sites, JMU has gone 4-1 and at home against Canisius and Iona, the Dukes hold a 2-0 record.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Gaels enter this weekend with a 4-4 record after competing in two four-game tournaments this season. This past weekend, the Gaels traveled home to New York ter dropping two games to Quinnipiac and one to Longwood and defeating Oakland 5-4 to finish the weekend 1-3.
Offensively, sophomore Katie Jansson leads the team with five runs scored this season and Jodi Petersen leads the Gaels with 10 hits. Jansson and junior Eileen McCann are tied to lead the team with two home runs so far this season.
Senior pitcher Sarah Jackson leads the team with 24 innings pitched and 28 batters struck out, with a 2-2 record. Redshirt senior Alyssa Maiese is close behind with a 1-1 record and 22.2 innings pitched, but leads the pitching staff with 31 batters struck out. Jackson and Maiese have both appeared in four games for the Gaels. Jansson has recorded 58 putouts and Maiese has posted 18 assists this season.
The Gaels are led by second-year head coach Roni Rivera who coached the team to its second MAAC championship last year and a trip to the NCAA Regional tournament. Rivera had a successful career as a softball player at Santa Clara University before coaching at Cal State Northridge, Dartmouth and Muhlenberg.
Entering the tournament this weekend, the Golden Griffins have a 1-3 record after competing in the ECU Pirate Classic. The team defeated Drexel before losing once to Virginia and twice to East Carolina. The Golden Griffins will compete in five games this weekend, beginning against JMU on Friday.
Junior Katie Medina leads the team with a .500 batting average and slugging percentage and a .692 on-base percentage. Senior Lizzy Gatto is the team leader with five runs scored this season. Gatto and Medina are tied with senior Kati Lancellotti for the team-high of four hits on the year.
Senior Caroline Main leads the pitching team with a 1-1 record in 14 innings pitched and 12 batters struck out. Main, sophomore Jen Consaul and junior Amanda Baun have each allowed two homeruns when in the circle. Lancellotti has posted a team-high nine assists this season and sophomore Valerie Nappo has recorded 31 putouts for the Golden Griffins.
Seven-time MAAC Coach of the Year Mike Rappl is the head coach for Canisius. As a 33rd-year veteran head coach for the Golden Griffins, Rappl has reached the 700-career win milestone of the Division I conference coaches. In his time at Canisius, Rappl has led the team to the MAAC Championship tournament 20 times in the past 22 years and from those appearances, the team has advanced to the championship game 17 times.
After participating in the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., last weekend, the Purple Eagles enter the UMBC Retriever Classic with an 0-5 record. The Eagles were defeated by UT-Martin, Chattanooga, Purdue, Valparaiso and East Tennessee State in the three-day tournament.
Senior first baseman Jen Hare is second on the team with a .357 batting average and has recorded five hits, a double and two RBIs so far this season. She is followed by freshman outfielder Katelyn Gruarin’s .333 average after hitting a triple and scoring an RBI. Junior catcher Becky Zill is the only Eagle this season to hit a homerun and also leads the team with four RBIs on four hits.
Hare leads the team with a 1.000 fielding percentage, coupled with 30 chances and 29 putouts. Freshman second baseman Desarae Maldonado leads the team with 11 assists and has recorded 21 chances and 10 putouts in the first games of the season.
Head Coach Al Dirschberger is entering his 22nd year with the Purple Eagles and is the longest tenured coach at Niagara. In 2009, Dirschberger coached Niagara to the MAAC Tournament Final for the first time since 1998. The Purple Eagles missed the 2011 post-season tournament and look to advance this season.
The Princeton Tigers begin their 2012 season at the UMBC Retriever Classic. After finishing the 2011 season with a 16-26 overall record and a 7-13 record in the Ivy League, Princeton will play its first five games of the season this weekend in Baltimore.
Junior outfielder Lizzy Pierce and senior infielder Kelsey VandeBergh earned First Team All-Ivy conference honors last season and are returning players for the 2012 season. Pierce ended last season with a team-high 25 RBIs, 10 doubles and four home runs, which tied for the team best, as well as a team-high .330 batting average. VandeBergh recorded the team’s second-best batting average at .314 and earned a team-high five homeruns and 24 runs.
Senior outfielder Nicole Ontiveros earned Second Team All-Ivy recognition and started all 42 games of the season for the Tigers. Junior pitcher Alex Peyton was given an honorable mention for her pitching performance with second-place Ivy League 3.54 ERA and a 6-12 record while earning four homeruns and 38 hits.
The Tigers are coached by fifth-season head coach Trina Salcido, who was an assistant coach with the team for three years before becoming the head coach. Salcido has coached the Tigers to a 54-14 Ivy League record which resulted in three league titles followed by three bids to the NCAA tournament.
Preview written by JMU Athletics Communications student Heather Aadahl.