HARRISONBURG, Va., May 23, 2011 - Winners of six straight games overall and 10 straight in conference, James Madison moved into the Collegiate Baseball national rankings at 30th while shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) and catcher Jake Lowery (Midlothian, Va./Cosby) were each named semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy for National Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
JMU is coming off of a three-game sweep at Northeastern, in which the Dukes allowed two runs in 27 innings. That sweep combined with Old Dominion's series loss at Hofstra gave JMU its second straight CAA first-place finish for the first time in program history. The Dukes will be the #1 seed for the CAA championship for the seventh time when they face fourth-seeded Georgia State at 3 p.m. Thursday in Wilmington, N.C.
The hot finish for the Dukes, who are 8-2 in the month of May, propelled them into the Collegiate Baseball poll at No. 30. It's the first ranking for JMU since sitting 27th in the same poll after an 11-1 start to the season.
Herbek and Lowery continued their run of recent recognitions by being named as one of 36 semifinalists for the NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy. JMU was one of seven schools to have multiple nominees on the list.
Herbek was recently named to the watch list of 25 players for the Brooks Wallace Award given to the nation's best shortstop by the College Baseball Foundation. Lowery has been listed on the Golden Spikes Award watch list of 60 players by USA Baseball as well as on the list of 13 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award presented to the nation's best catcher by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.
Entering the CAA Championship, Herbek is hitting .368 with 74 hits, 50 runs, 18 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 67 RBIs, a .697 slugging percentage, .449 on-base percentage, 12 steals and a .946 fielding percentage. He is fifth in the CAA in batting, eighth in runs, third in home runs, seventh in doubles, second in RBIs, second in total bases and third in slugging percentage. He was twice named Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Week this season. Herbek set the CAA career hit by pitch record (54) this season along with JMU's career sacrifice flies record (24). He has moved into the JMU career top 10 for games (203), hits (245), runs (183), RBIs (186), doubles (60), total bases (425) and assists (491).
Lowery is currently hitting .348 with 77 hits, 72 runs, 19 doubles, eight triples, 22 home runs, 81 RBIs, 178 total bases, a .805 slugging percentage, 36 walks, .441 on-base percentage, nine steals and a .993 fielding percentage. He is third in the nation in slugging percentage, fourth in on-base plus slugging (1.246), second in runs, fourth in triples, second in home runs, first in RBIs and first in total bases. Lowery has already set JMU season records for triples (tied), extra-base hits (49) and RBIs. He is also second for season runs, ninth for doubles, third for home runs, second for total bases, second for slugging percentage and could hit the top 10 for at bats and hits.