HARRISONBURG, Va., Feb.13, 2013 – Coming off a season that saw them win 30 games and finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association, the James Madison softball team is set to kick off its 2013 campaign on Friday in Charleston, S.C. The Dukes are scheduled to play five games in three days in the College of Charleston Cougar Classic, beginning Friday at 10 a.m. against Akron.
JMU returns seven starters from last year’s team that finished 30-26 overall and 15-5 in the CAA. Picked to finish second in the CAA Coaches’ Preseason Poll, the Dukes are led by senior outfielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange). Butler stole a career-high 21 bases, the second highest total in school history, while hitting .309 and scoring 33 runs. She currently holds the highest average mark in JMU history, hitting at a .343 clip for her career.
Joining Butler in the outfield is All-CAA First Team and All-Rookie outfielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton). Last season, Heath led the team in batting average, hitting .355 on 65 hits and added 33 runs scored, 14 RBIs and two home runs. Juniors Anna Klumpp (Culpeper, Va./Eastern View) and Cassidy Clayton (Acton, Mass./Acton Boxborough) as well as sophomore Haley Widner (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready) will also see action in the Dukes outfield.
The infield is anchored by junior third baseman Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) who started all 55 games at third base for Madison. Sandy earned Second Team All-CAA honors after hitting .293 with 26 runs scored and 14 RBIs. Senior Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./ Broad Run) made 54 starts at first base and finished as one of the toughest players in the country to strikeout, averaging one every 31 at-bats. The Dukes’ infield is rounded out by senior catcher Megan Shinaberry (Davie, Fla./McCarthy).
Sophomore Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) contributed both at the plate and in the circle for JMU, earning Second Team All-Region, Second Team All-CAA and CAA All-Rookie honors as a pitcher/designated player. She hit .322 with 29 RBIs and her nine home runs were second most by a freshman in program history. In the circle, Mooney finished 8-10 with a 3.56 ERA adding seven complete games and two shutouts in 110 innings pitched.
Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) returns for her sophomore campaign after being named First Team All-CAA, CAA Rookie of the Year, and All-Rookie selection in 2012. Kiefer led the Dukes pitching staff with a 14-6 record, including 15 complete games and 5 shutouts, posting a 1.96 ERA in 143 innings pitched. The young pitching staff will also look for contributions from sophomores Reba DePriest (Apache Junction, Ariz./Skyline) and Miranda Kemp (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield (Iowa State)), as well as newcomer Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County). Junior right-hander Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) is the only returning pitcher with more than one year experience.
JMU is 6-5 all-time in its season-openers and 21-23 overall on the opening weekend of the season.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Zips kicked off the 2013 season with a 2-2 record at the Georgia Southern Tournament in Statesboro, Ga. After opening the weekend with a 9-2 win over Tennessee Tech, the Zips fell to Georgia Southern and Tennessee Tech. Akron concluded the weekend with a late-inning rally to capture a 4-2 win over St. John’s (N.Y).
Sophomore Rachael Ratcliffe led the Zips with seven RBIs over the weekend, including her first home run of the season against Georgia Southern. As a freshman Ratcliffe finished second on the team with 15 multi-hit games and nine home runs. Senior Alissa Birkhimer hit .385 and scored three runs, while sophomore OF Iesha Mountain added three steals.
In the circle, freshman Erin Seiler earned MAC East Pitcher of the Week honors after starting her collegiate career with two complete game victories. Seiler gave up six runs on 18 hits and struck out 15, finishing with a 2.29 ERA.
Head coach Julie Jones is in her seventh season with the Zips and holds a 142-176-1 record.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
The Cougars were set to open their season on Wednesday, but had their doubleheader washed out. They were picked to finish third in the SoCon Coaches’ Poll after going 37-23 overall and 14-9 in conference a year ago.
Second baseman Ashton Jarrett returns after hitting .342 with 34 runs scored and 13 steals a year ago. Outfielder Carly Corthell is also back after stealing 21 bases and hitting .302. Third baseman Kelsey Hodgson is the top returning power bat after hitting 11 homers in 2012.
Stephanie Saylors returns for her senior campaign in the circle after going 16-13 with a 1.84 ERA in 186 2/3 innings pitched. She struck out 170 and walked just 40 in 37 appearances. Hope Klicker added a 19-9 record and a 2.16 ERA in 161 2/3 innings pitched.
Head Coach Shelly Hoerner enters her eighth season with Charleston with a 217-186 record. In her 15 year coaching career, Hoerner is 422-306 (.580) overall.
EAST TENNESSEE STATE
The Buccaneers season opened at the Plainsmen Invitational in Auburn, Ala. They dropped all four games, losing to Auburn, Kent State, Austin Peay and Army to start the season 0-4.
Freshman Sam Carpenter paced the Buccaneers offensively, hitting two home runs versus Kent State and finishing the weekend hitting .333 with four RBI and 3 runs.
In the circle, freshman Samantha Harrell gave up 13 runs but only five earned in two starts, finishing the weekend 0-2 with a 2.76 ERA. The first-year hurler struck out ten and walked seven in 12 2/3 innings pitched.
Brad Irwin is in his third season as East Tennessee State head coach with a 26-72 record.
The Tigers season got underway at the Pirate Classic in Greenville, N.C. They finished 4-1, recording a pair of victories against Cleveland State and wins against Ohio and Rider. In their final game of the weekend, the Tigers fell to East Carolina, 10-2.
Senior Bina Abbot earned CAA Co-Player of the Week accolades after hitting .429 with seven RBIs and a home run in her first five games of the season. Junior Delanie Dunham also got off to a hot start, hitting .500 with a homerun, four RBIs and six runs.
In the circle, three Tigers pitchers earned starts. Freshman Ambar Hickman pitched a shutout in her second career start and finished the weekend with a 2.10 ERA and seven strikeouts. Senior Katie Lingmai, who pitched 192 2/3 innings last season, ended the weekend 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA, 12 strikeouts and a complete game in two starts.
Head coach Lisa Costello is in her 18th season with the Tigers, holding a career record of 502-440-2. She won her 500th career game over the weekend in a 7-5 victory over Ohio.
The Orange are playing their first games of the season this weekend. Coming off a 43-6 record, including a 17-5 finish in Big East play, the Orange look to improve on a season that ended with an appearance in last year’s NCAA Regional Championship game. They were picked to finish fifth in the Big East preseason poll.
Senior Veronica Grant returns in 2013 after earning First Team All-Big East honors last season. She ended 2012 with a .263 batting average, posting 30 hits, two home runs and 17 runs.
Pitcher Stacy Kuwik returns for her senior season after posting a 14-3 record with a 1.60 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 2012. The Orange graduated the Big East’s all-time leader in strikeouts and NFCA third team All-American, Jenna Caira.
Head coach Leigh Ross enters her seventh season with the Orange holding a 91-46 record. In 15 seasons she has compiled a 429-337-2 record as head coach for Syracuse and Bowling Green.
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