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Softball Dukes Selected to Finish Second in CAA Preseason Poll
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:02/03/2014
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RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 3, 2014 – Coming off a season that saw it win a program record 42 games and receive an at-large selection to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the James Madison softball team was picked to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association based on voting by the league’s seven head coaches.

Defending champion Hofstra was chosen as the preseason favorite, receiving five first-place votes and 35 total points. The Dukes picked up the other two first-place votes and claimed second with 32 points. CAA newcomer the College of Charleston and Delaware tied for third in the voting while Towson was positioned in fifth. Rounding out the poll was UNCW in sixth and Drexel in seventh.

JMU returns nine letterwinners from last year’s squad that went 42-17 overall and 18-3 in conference play. Madison expects to be paced by its depth in the pitching circle as it returns 2013 CAA Rookie of the Year and First Team All-CAA selection Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) as well as 2012 Rookie of the Year and two-time All-CAA selection Heather Kiefer (Potomac Falls, Va./Potomac Falls). Ford went 24-6 with a 1.61 ERA in 2013, adding nine shutouts and 209 strikeouts in 191 innings pitched. Kiefer contributed a 14-8 mark and a 1.65 ERA while walking just 27 batters in 135 2/3 innings pitched.

Ford also hit .373 with 15 home runs, 49 RBIs, 38 runs and nine stolen bases in 169 at-bats. She’s joined in the batting order by three-time All-CAA selection senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) as well as CAA All-Rookie honoree sophomore catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) and sophomore second baseman Hannah Hayes (LaCrosse, Va./Kenston Forest). Sandy hit .313 with 25 RBIs, 20 runs scored and 13 steals. Field added a .328 average and a team-best 14 doubles while Hayes hit .256 and smacked two home runs.

Hofstra returns 11 letterwinners, including a pair of fifth-year seniors and All-CAA honorees in Rachel Senatore and Becca Bigler, from a 2013 squad that set a program record for wins (46-13). Hofstra captured the CAA Championship and advanced to the NCAA Regional finals.  As the team’s starting shortstop, Bigler hit 12 home runs and drove in 41 runs from a premium defensive position to earn All-CAA second team accolades. Senatore is coming off a red-shirt season for an injury, but was a force as the leadoff hitter in 2012 for the Pride batting .364 with 71 hits and 38 runs scored and earning first-team All-CAA honors. Hofstra also welcomes back All-CAA first team member Erin Trippi, who moved from the team’s primary DP to the starting catcher in 2012. She helped Hofstra pitchers register a 1.67 ERA a year ago while batting .315. Second-team All-CAA honoree senior Tori Rocha returns at second base (.285, 17 RBI, 45 H).

The Cougars, who will be led by new head coach Linda Kalafatis, return 19 letter winners and eight starters from their 37-20 team. Three all-conference first-team honorees return to play their first season in the CAA, including junior pitcher Hope Klicker, who led Charleston with a 20-11 record and a 2.25 ERA. She fanned 161 batters during 190.0 innings pitched and held her opponents to a .228 batting average. Senior third baseman Kelsey Hodgson led the team at the plate with a .325 batting average with 53 hits and team highs of 46 runs scored, 15 home runs (second most in CofC history in a season) and 44 RBI. Sophomore utility Chandler Frisbie earned both first-team and all-rookie honors in the Southern Conference (.298, 50 H, 28 RBI, 20 R).

Delaware is coming off one of its top seasons in program history with 35 wins (35-22), second most in UD history. Head coach Jaime Wohlbach welcomes back 10 letterwinners that helped set UD single season records for 236 runs scored, 427 hits and 72 doubles a year ago. UD will be led by junior rightfielder Jessica Grisler, who set a program single-season record 39 runs scored and hit a team-best .365. Sophomores Shelby Jones and Lisa Stacevicz, CAA All-Rookie honorees a year ago, will also be a threat for the Blue Hens. Jones batted .301 and tied for the team lead with four home runs, while Stacevicz led UD with 13 doubles, tied for the lead with 28 RBI and posted a .313 batting average.

JMU opens its season this weekend as it ventures to Athens, Ga., to play in the Red and Black Showcase from Friday, Feb. 7 through Sunday, Feb. 9. The Dukes are joined by No. 23/24 Georgia, North Texas and Winthrop in the five-game tournament.

2014 CAA Softball Coaches’ Preseason Predicted Order of Finish
First place votes in parenthesis

1.

Hofstra

35 (5)

2.

James Madison

32 (2)

T3.

College of Charleston

23

 

Delaware

23

5.

Towson

17

6.

UNCW

10

7.

Drexel

7

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