HARRISONBURG, Va., April 19, 2013 – After going 6-1 during its recent seven-game homestand, the James Madison softball team begins an important eight-game road trip at Delaware this weekend. The Dukes and Blue Hens play a Colonial Athletic Association doubleheader at the Delaware Softball Stadium in Newark, Del., beginning at noon on Saturday. The teams conclude the series with a single game on Sunday, also at noon.
JMU travels to three opponents ranked in the top 75 of the NCAA Ratings Percent Index (RPI) during the next 10 days, playing at No. 75 Delaware, No. 8 Tennessee and No. 31 Hofstra. Madison currently sits at No. 43 in the RPI with a 33-10 record overall and a 12-0 mark in the CAA.
The Dukes have won 16 consecutive games against conference foes dating back to 2012, including seven straight on the road. They currently hold a one and a half game lead over Hofstra and a three-game lead over Delaware for the top spot in the CAA standings. The regular season champion gets to host the CAA Championship from May 9-12. Assuming no games lost to weather, JMU needs to go 7-2 over its final nine CAA games to clinch the top seed.
Thus far this season, JMU is hitting .369 with a .551 slugging percentage and 14 home runs in conference play. Eight Dukes are hitting over .300 against league foes with three players hitting above .400. Freshman pitcher/first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) is hitting .581 with seven home runs, 18 RBIs and 17 runs. Junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) is hitting .471 with a .500 on-base percentage. She’s added eight runs and six RBIs while sophomore utility player Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) is batting .410 with three home runs, 13 RBIs and 12 runs scored.
In the circle, the Dukes’ pitching staff is 12-0 with a 0.64 ERA in 76 innings pitched against league foes. JMU’s top two pitchers of Ford and sophomore Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) have combined for four shutouts and nine complete games. Kiefer is 5-0 with a 0.20 ERA, limiting her opponents to a .139 batting average with three shutouts and four complete games in seven appearances.
Ford has gone 7-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 40 1/3 innings pitched. She’s allowed just 16 hits in 139 at-bats, limiting batters to a .115 batting average. She has struck out 53 and walked just 19. Sophomore Miranda Kemp (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) tossed a shutout inning in her only appearance in CAA play.
Madison has not trailed at any point in CAA play this season. It has held a lead after 69 of the 76 innings played, including scoring in the first inning in seven of its league games.
The Blue Hens are 31-11 and 9-3 in the CAA play after dropping their first conference games of the year in last weekend’s series against Hofstra. The Blue Hens managed to score just three runs in a three-game sweep by Hofstra. On Wednesday, Delaware defeated Rider at home to improve to 11-1 at UD Softball Stadium this season.
As a team, the Blue Hens are batting .300 with seven starters hitting .290 or better. Lead-off hitter Jessica Grisler leads the Blue Hens with a .370 batting average, 32 runs scored and nine stolen bases. Third baseman Lara Andrews is Delaware’s top slugger, hitting .307 with three home runs and 20 RBIs. Shortstop Lisa Stacevicz is hitting .340 with team-highs in doubles (nine) and RBIs (22).
In the circle, Delaware boasts a deep staff of right-handers who have split the starting duties this season. Senior Chenxi Jiao leads the staff with 26 appearances, posting a 12-4 record and a 1.55 ERA in 95 innings. In 20 appearances, freshman Kiersten Coffman is 8-1 with a 2.39 ERA in 73 1/3 innings. Senior Amanda Stacevicz is 5-2 with a 3.10 ERA and freshman Taylor Curran holds a 3.33 ERA with three complete games in ten starts.
Jaime Wohlbach is in the midst of her first winning season at Delaware in her third year as head coach. In three years with the Blue Hens, Wohlbach holds a 67-86-1 record.
All-time, the Dukes own a 22-13 advantage over the Blue Hens. JMU last played Delaware in the first elimination game of last season’s CAA Championship. The Dukes won 6-3 on the heels of three seventh-inning home runs, including homers by senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) and Sandy. The Dukes series visit to Delaware in 2011 resulted in three one-run games, ending with a 2-1 series win for the Blue Hens.
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