HARRISONBURG, Va., April 5, 2013 – Off to the best Colonial Athletic Association start in program history, the James Madison softball team travels to Wilmington, N.C., this weekend, looking to hold on to first place during a three-game series at UNCW. The Dukes and Seahawks play a doubleheader at Boseman Field on Saturday beginning at noon and close the series with a single game on Sunday, also at noon.
JMU enters the weekend on a 10-game CAA winning streak dating back to the 2012 season. The Dukes and Delaware are tied for first place at 6-0 in the league. Hofstra is a game and a half back in third place.
JMU squares off against a couple of familiar foes this weekend as former JMU associate head softball coach Kristy Norton is the first-year head coach for UNCW. She is assisted by three-time All-CAA JMU pitcher Meredith Felts (2006-09).
Norton served as an assistant coach on JMU’s staff for eight seasons and helped to build on the conference’s most powerful offenses. Madison was 240-191 in her years in Madison, boasted the CAA Player of the Year three times and won its only CAA Championship in 2009.
Felts is the only pitcher in school history to be named First Team All-CAA twice. She was the 2009 CAA Championship Most Outstanding Player after going 2-0 with a 0.58 ERA in two appearances.
JMU is coming off a tough trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., on Wednesday that saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end at No. 25 North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 6-0 in game one and 5-3 in game two.
Sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) went 4-for-4 in game two against UNC to tie the school record for hits in a game. She also became the 22nd player in school history to reach 100 career hits. She is just the third player, joining senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) and Katie George (2004-07), to reach 100 hits as a sophomore. She is the fourth player on the current roster to reach the 100-hit club, joining Butler, senior third baseman Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) and junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt).
The Dukes stole their 91st base of the season on Wednesday to set a new team record. The previous record was held by the 2011 team. Butler leads the way with 27 steals in 29 attempts followed by Heath with 12 steals in 16 attempts and freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) with a perfect 9-for-9 mark in thefts.
Sophomore pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) gave up two earned runs to UNC on Wednesday. They were the first earned runs she had allowed in her previous five appearances. The sophomore has limited opponents to just three earned runs over her 10 appearances and 45 1/3 innings pitched.
The Seahawks are 12-19 and 1-4 in conference play after dropping two of three games in last weekend’s series against George Mason. On Wednesday, the Seahawks split a doubleheader with East Carolina, winning game two 5-3 in eight innings. UNCW has played extra innings in three of their last five games.
The Seahawks offense is paced by junior KC Shue who leads the team in batting average (.338) and RBIs (19). Sophomore Morgan McCann is hitting .295 with 18 runs scored and 12 RBIs. Senior Lauryn Buckworth is hitting .325 on 26 hits, including a team-best seven doubles.
The Seahawks are led in the circle by a pair of sophomore pitchers. Left-hander Casey Rowland is the Seahawks top pitcher, leading the team with a 3.39 ERA and nine complete games in 97 innings of work. Right-hander Jordyn Schmidt owns a 4-6 record with a 4.96 ERA and .319 opponent’s batting average.
Norton is in her first season as head coach for UNC Wilmington.
JMU leads the all-time series with UNCW 25-4, including winning three straight and 19 of the last 20. Last season, the Dukes swept a series at Veterans Memorial Park, outscoring the Seahawks 23-3.
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