HARRISONBURG, Va., April 8, 2011 – Coming off consecutive-series wins to open up Colonial Athletic Association play, the James Madison softball team travels to Newark, Del., this weekend for a three-game series with the University of Delaware.
The teams will play a doubleheader at the Delaware Softball Stadium on Saturday before closing the series with a single game on Sunday. First pitch for both days is scheduled for noon.
The Dukes are 5-1 in CAA play after sweeping George Mason at home last weekend. They are tied for second in the conference with Georgia State. Both teams trail defending champion Hofstra by a game.
JMU enters the week with the top three hitters in the league as sophomore Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) and juniors Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) and Caitlen Manning (Prince George, Va./Prince George) rank first, second and third, respectively, in batting average. Butler is hitting .406 with three doubles, two triples, 23 runs scored and 16 RBIS while Burnham leads the conference in hits (45), triples (five), home runs (11) and RBIs. Manning is hitting .330 with a league-high eight doubles, five home runs and 22 RBIs.
Butler is tied with redshirt senior Chel’sea Ryan (Sandston, Va./Henrico) for the CAA lead in stolen bases with 17. JMU leads the conference with 70 steals (2.1/game) in 85 attempts.
In the circle, senior Olivia McPherson (Liberty, N.C./Southern Alamance) has gone 9-5 with a 2.01 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .230 off the right-hander and she has struck out 51 in 87 innings pitched. Sophomore Cara Stecher (New Castle, Del./Caravel Academy) is 10-1 with a 2.84 ERA and freshman Brittany Jeans (Camano Island, Wash./Stanwood) is 4-5 with a 3.21 ERA.
The Blue Hens are playing their first home conference series after opening up with trips to George Mason and Hofstra. They are 11-24 overall and 2-4 in CAA play.
Offensively, freshman Michelle McKinnon leads the team with a .326 batting average and has added 14 runs and 12 RBIs in 35 games for UD. Sophomore Gina Knutson provides the team’s power, as she leads all players with six home runs and 21 RBIs. She is also tops on the team in steals with seven in nine opportunities. Jenny Richards is hitting .250 and is tied with Caitlen Manning for the league-lead in doubles with eight.
Amanda Stacevicz is the team’s top pitcher, going 7-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 13 games started. Opponents are hitting .299 off the junior and she has struck out 60 in 94 innings pitched. Freshman Kathleen Conway has a team-high 78 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings pitched. She is 2-7 with a 5.88 ERA.
Head coach Jamie Wohlbach is in her first season at the helm in Newark. She is 11-24 at Delaware and 56-74 all-time after joining Delaware from Iona College.
JMU leads the all-time series 18-10, including wins in nine of the last 11 meetings. Madison has taken two of three from Delaware in each of the last two seasons. The Dukes hold a 7-4 edge all-time in games played at the Delaware Softball Stadium.
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