HARRISONBURG, Va., May 15, 2013 – Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009, the James Madison softball team travels to the University of Tennessee this weekend to play in the Knoxville Regional in the first round of the NCAA Division I Softball tournament this weekend.
JMU plays North Carolina State at 3:30 p.m. on Friday in the opening round of the four-team, double-elimination regional held at Sherri Parker Stadium and hosted by nationally-seeded No. 7 Tennessee starting on Friday. Joining Madison, N.C. State and Tennessee in the regional is Big South champions Longwood.
The winner of the Dukes’ game against the Wolfpack advances to the winners’ bracket game against the winner of the 6 p.m. game between Tennessee and Longwood while the losers face each other in the bracket’s first elimination game. The winner of the elimination game advances to faces the loser of the winners’ bracket game in the second elimination game with the winner advancing to the championship round against the winner of the winners’ bracket game.
All games are available to view on Live Stats or by free live stream courtesy of UTSports.com. Tickets to the three-day regional are on sale at the Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office at Thompson-Boling Arena or by visiting UTTix.com.
JMU received the first at-large bid in program history during Sunday’s Selection Show becoming the second school in Colonial Athletic Association history to receive an at-large bid. Hofstra received an at-large in 2003 prior to the CAA picking up an automatic bid to the tournament.
The Dukes are 0-2 in NCAA tournament after falling to Tennessee and Jacksonville State during their only other appearance. The 2009 team led No. 18 Tennessee 3-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, but the Volunteers scored a run in the sixth and seventh frames to earn the walk-off win.
Last week, Madison finished as the runner’s up in the CAA Championship, falling to Hofstra 2-1 in the championship round. Freshman pitcher Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) tossed her 21st complete game of the season while tying the school record for starts in a season with her 29th. The CAA Rookie of the Year struck out three batters, giving her 199 on the season and putting her on the precipice of becoming the first JMU player to reach 200 strikeouts in a season.
Offensively, the Dukes picked up hits from sophomore left fielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton), sophomore third baseman Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) and freshman second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest). Hayes had a double and scored the team’s only run after coming home on a sacrifice fly by junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt).
SCOUTING N.C. STATE
The Wolfpack won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last week, defeating Florida State 1-0 in the title game. They went 33-18-1 during the season, including a 13-7 mark in the ACC.
The Pack has hit 86 home runs as a team with four players reaching double figures. Shortstop Renada Davis is tied for second in the country with 26 homers. She leads the team with a .318 batting average, adding 50 RBIs, 49 runs scored, nine doubles, 19 walks and five stolen bases. Outfielder Caitlin Dent is second on the squad with 14 homers and 48 RBIs while catcher Kristy Grant leads the team with seven steals in seven attempts.
Emily Weiman handles a majority of the pitching duties for N.C. State. She’s thrown 87-percent of her team’s innings this season, going 31-16 with a 1.92 ERA. The sophomore has struck out 259 and held opponents to a .216 batting average in 295 innings this season.
Shawn Rychcik is in his first season at the helm for the Wolfpack. He owns a 304-177-2 record in nine seasons as a head coach after heading to Raleigh from Boston University.
The Volunteers fell to Missouri in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament and come into the regional with a 44-10 mark on the season. They went 16-6 in the SEC and climbed to as high as No. 2 in the National Polls during the season.
Tennessee has six players hitting better than .300, including two over the .400 mark. Third baseman Raven Chavenne leads the team with a .471 batting average, adding four doubles, a triple and seven home runs. She is the top base stealer on the team with 39 in 39 attempts. Second baseman Lauren Gibson leads the team with 18 home runs and 66 RBIs while shortstop Madison Shipman leads the squad with 17 doubles.
Sisters Ivy and Ellen Renfroe handle most of the work in the circle for the Volunteers. Ivy leads the team with a 17-4 mark. She has a 1.91 ERA and has struck out 125 in 124 innings pitched. Ellen went 16-4 with a 1.93 ERA while striking out 161 in 152 innings pitched.
Ralph and Karen Weekly are the co-head coaches for the Volunteers and own a 606-182-2 record in 12 seasons in Knoxville.
The Lancers won the Big South Championship over Winthrop on Sunday to earn their first trip to the Division I NCAA Tournament. They went 41-18 overall and 16-8 in the Big South.
Longwood hit .319 as a team with 80 home runs and 415 runs scored. Catcher Megan Baltzell leads the country in home runs with 30, adding 78 RBIs and 75 runs scored. Outfielder Kori Nishitomi is hitting .446 with 80 runs scored and 23 stolen bases while Big South Player of the Year Brooke Short hit 18 home runs with 69 RBIs and a .430 batting average.
Libby Morris led the way for the Lancers in the circle, going 21-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 166 2/3 innings pitched. She struck out 90 and held opponents to a .249 batting average. Short went 18-8 with a 3.07 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 153 innings pitched.
Kathy Riley is in her 16th season with Longwood and owns a 504-274-1 record with the team. In 20 seasons as a head coach, she has gone 591-356-1.
The Dukes have a 2-10 record all-time against this weekend’s opponents. They’ve gone 1-4 all-time against Longwood and N.C. State while losing both games its played against Tennessee. JMU last faced Longwood in 2012, losing a doubleheader in Farmville, 9-0 and 2-1. Madison’s last game against the Wolfpack came in 2011 when they lost 8-4 in Raleigh and the team’s only meetings with Tennessee came in 2009 with the Dukes losing 3-1 and 4-3.
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