HARRISONBURG, Va., April 26, 2012 – With just two conference series remaining in its 2012 schedule, the James Madison softball team travels to Atlanta, Ga., this weekend for a three-game Colonial Athletic Association series against Georgia State. Saturdays the teams play a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. at the Robert E. Heck Softball Complex with Sunday’s series finale also scheduled for a noon start.
The Dukes and Panthers enter the weekend tied for second in the CAA with 10-4 conference records. They trail league-leading Hofstra by 3 ½ games with six to play. Both teams can clinch a spot in the conference championship with just one win in the series.
Towson is currently riding a five-game winning streak and trails the JMU and GSU by 2 ½ games. Drexel is fifth with a 5-9 record and sits 2 ½ games out of the fourth and final spot for the conference tournament.
Last weekend, JMU lost both games of its series against Hofstra and has lost three straight over all. Prior to that the Dukes won 12 straight games and sit at 24-23 on the season.
Senior shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) went 3-for-5 in the series against the Pride to raise her batting average to .343. She leads the team in runs (36), doubles (14), home runs (11), RBIs (39) and has added 13 walks and nine steal while playing defense at a .952 clip.
Sophomore third baseman Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) was the only other Duke to record a hit last weekend, picking up a double. She is second on the team with 10 doubles and ranks seventh in the country in at-bats per strikeout with 39.7. She is one spot behind junior teammate Haley Johnson (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) who ranks 6th at 41.7 at-bats per strikeout.
Freshman pitcher Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls) gave up just two runs in seven innings of work against Hofstra. She limited her opponents to four hits and a walk while striking out five in a complete-game effort. This season the rookie is 10-5 with a 1.97 ERA in 16 games started. She has 11 complete games, four shutouts and two saves. Kiefer has limited her opponents to a .231 batting average against and struck out 69 in 110 1/3 innings pitched.
SCOUTING GEORGIA STATE
The Panthers carry 33-13 overall record and have won five of their last six and 13 of their last 15 overall. That stretch includes a win over second-ranked Alabama on April 17. Last weekend, they went 1-1 in a doubleheader against Delaware before having the series finale rained out. The loss to the Blue Hens snapped a 10-game conference winning streak.
Freshman Lauren Coleman paces the offense, hitting .325 with nine doubles, one triple and three home runs. She’s added 16 runs scored, 19 RBIs and 23 walks this season. Callie Alford has a team-high 34 RBIs, adding eight doubles and six home runs while Paige Nowacki is hitting .276 with a team-best nine home runs and 29 RBIs. Whitney Phillips is the team’s top speed threat, stealing 10 bases in 11 attempts.
Three different pitchers have thrown between 86 and 97 innings for GSU. Alana Thomas is 11-4 with a 2.31 ERA while throwing a team-high 97 innings this season. In 18 starts she has eight complete games and five shutouts while holding opponents to a .243 batting average against. Kaitlyn Medlam has limited batters to a .196 batting average and has a team-high 88 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings pitched. McCall Langford is 8-6 with a 2.05 ERA with five complete games and four shutouts.
Roger Kincaid is in his second season as the head coach of Georgia State. His team won the conference tournament in his first season and he has compiled a 64-33 career record.
The Dukes and Panthers have met 22 times dating back to 2006. Georgia State holds a 15-7 edge in the all-time series thanks to winning eight of the last 10 in the series. Last season GSU swept two games over the Dukes in Harrisonburg before having the third game of the series wiped out due to rain. JMU is 3-6 all-time in games played at Georgia State.
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