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Courtesy: Photography/JMU Athletics Communications
Softball Looks to Build on Strong Start at Citrus Classic in Orlando
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:02/28/2013
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HARRISONBURG, Va., Feb. 27, 2013 – Coming off a strong showing in one of college softball’s premier tournaments, the James Madison softball team looks to build on its early success this weekend at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla. The three-day tournament is scheduled to be contested at ESPN/Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. 

JMU once against faces a daunting schedule, taking on Pittsburgh, the College of Charleston, Illinois State, No. 14/14 Michigan and No. 10/12 Oregon during the weekend. Including Illinois State, the Dukes face three teams that received votes in this week’s Top 25 polls. 

This week’s NFCA/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll included one vote for Madison which is the first time the Dukes have appeared in either major poll. The team is 7-3 on the season with a win over No. 14 USF as well as wins over two teams, Syracuse and DePaul, that have received votes at times this year. 

Through its first 10 games, JMU has six starters hitting over .280, including four hitting .357 or better. Freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park), who was named CAA Player of the Week on Tuesday, leads the way with a .485 average. She has three doubles, 10 RBIs and has stolen four bases. CAA Rookie of the Week Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) is hitting .387 with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs. 

Senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) leads the team with six steals in seven attempts. She’s paced a JMU team that is 29-for-33 in steal attempts on the year. Opponents have stolen just four bases in six tries against the Dukes. 

PITTSBURGH
The Panthers improved to 5-5 on the season last weekend after finishing 4-1 at the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic in Bowling Green, Ky. Pittsburgh opened the season 1-4 at the Texas A&M Tournament losing to No. 23 North Carolina and dropping a pair of games to No. 11 Texas A&M. 

Catcher Holly Stevens was recognized on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll for her performance over the weekend. The senior had two home runs, five RBIs, five runs and six walks en route to being named to the All-Tournament Team. She is hitting .300 and slugging .700 on the year, with three home runs and seven RBIs. Sophomore Maggie Sevilla leads the team in batting, hitting .476 with an on base percentage of .542. 

Sophomore pitcher Savannah King leads Panthers staff with a 3-3 record and 3.03 ERA in 37 innings pitched. The right hander has walked 18 and struck out 23, and opponents are hitting .299 against her. Alexa Larkin is 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA and 32 strikeouts in five games started. In her second start of the year she struck out ten in 1-0 complete game victory against Stephen F. Austin. 

Holly Aprile is in her fifth season as the Pittsburgh head coach, holding a 117-97 record. 

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON
The Cougars enter the weekend 6-3, winners of six straight, and face the Dukes for the second time this season. JMU won the first match-up, 6-0, behind the effort of freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford who hit two home runs and pitched a shutout. 

Freshman Chandler Frisbie leads the Cougars offense, batting .429 with one home run, six RBIs. Senior Ashton Jarrett sets the table from the top two spots in the lineup, batting .286 with a team-high four steals and eight runs scored. Outfielder Carly Corthell has reached base at a .429 clip and is hitting .385.

Left-hander Hope Klicker struck out 22 in two complete games victories last week and earned Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week honors. The sophomore is 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA and has held opponents to a .210 batting average against. Senior Stephanie Saylors is 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA, including two complete games and a shutout. 

Head Coach Shelly Hoerner enters her eighth season with Charleston with a 223-189 record. In her 15 year coaching career, Hoerner is 428-309 overall. 

ILLINOIS STATE
The Redbirds are 8-8 after a 3-3 weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla. Despite being at the same tournament, the Dukes and Redbirds did not face each other over the weekend. The Redbirds dropped games to No. 15 Michigan and No. 12 UL Lafayette, but shutout No. 14 South Florida 7-0 to cap the weekend. 

Four Redbirds starters are hitting above .285, led by senior outfielder Jhavon Hamilton. Hamilton has served as the consummate lead-off hitter, drawing 16 walks and reaching base at a team-leading .484 mark. She is hitting .298 with two home runs, 10 RBIs and a team-high 13 runs scored. Senior Elizabeth Kay is the team’s top power threat, hitting .288 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. Kay’s 36 career home runs rank her third on the Redbirds all-time list. 

In the circle, junior Taylor Baxter and freshman Regan Romshek have each made eight starts for the Redbirds. Baxter holds a 4-2 record with a 2.88 ERA and has been called for five balks on the year. Romshek is 3-5 with a 4.02 ERA, including 43 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched. Sophia Perez has made eight appearances in relief, recording a 2.47 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. 

Head coach Melinda Fischer is in her 28th season at the helm for the Redbirds. The 1972 graduate of Illinois State holds an 889-599-4 record with the team. 

MICHIGAN
The 14th-ranked Wolverines are 10-3 after having their seven game win streak snapped by DePaul at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Over the weekend, UM recorded wins over No. 12 UL Lafayette, Illinois State, UC Davis and Hofstra. The Wolverines only other losses were one-run games to a No. 12 South Florida team and LIU Brooklyn. 

As a team Michigan is batting .319, with five Wolverine starters hitting above .360.  Sophomore Sara Driesenga is leading the team both at the plate and in the circle. She is batting .367 with a .488 on base percentage, two home runs and a team-best 16 RBIs. Freshman Sierra Romero has been the Wolverines top power bat, hitting three home runs and driving in 13 RBIs while adding 13 runs scored. Outfielder Lindsey Doyle has scored 10 runs and has swiped a team-high six bags this season. 

In the circle, Driesenga has thrown 71 2/3 innings of the 86 innings the Wolverines have played this season. She is 9-2 with a 0.88 ERA, 63 strikeouts and a .184 batting average against. Over the weekend, the right hander tossed her first career no-hitter against Hofstra. Senior Stephanie Speierman has made four appearances, recording a 1,97 ERA in 10 2/3 innings pitched. 

Carol Hutchins is in her 30th season as a head coach with a career record of 1,274-434-4. 

OREGON
No. 10 Oregon is 13-3, with all three losses coming at the hands of top-25 opponents. Last weekend in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, the Ducks finished 5-0 with wins over San Diego State, UNLV, Cal Poly, Nebraska and Virginia. 

The Ducks have hit .324 as a team on the season, led by the two-spot hitter Janie Takeda. The sophomore outfielder is batting a team-best .449 and is the Ducks lead threat on the bases with nine steals in as many attempts. Junior Kailee Cuico is the top power bat and run producer, with four home runs and 18 RBIs on the season. Second baseman Kaylan Howard is hitting .378 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and 14 runs scored. 

2012 All-American Jessica Moore leads a stellar Ducks pitching staff with a 7-2 record, 1.31 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 48 innings of work. Freshman Cheridan Hawkins has stifled opponents’ bats, allowing just nine hits in 33 innings while striking out 47. The left hander is 4-1 with three saves and a 1.48 ERA. Sophomore Karissa Hovinga has made three starts, striking out 20 in 20 innings and recording a 2.10 ERA. 

Head coach Mike White is in his 4th season with the Ducks, including leading Oregon to an appearance in the last year’s Women’s College World Series. He owns a 123-55 record overall. 

SERIES HISTORY

JMU and the College of Charleston have split the all-time series 2-2. The latest match-up went in the Dukes favor 6-0 at Charleston earlier this season. The Dukes took down Pittsburgh last year 2-1 at the JMU Invitational and own a 5-2 overall record against the Panthers. JMU has lost their only matchup against Oregon, 7-2, back in 2008. 

The Dukes will match-up against Michigan and Illinois State for the first time in the program’s history this weekend. 

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