HARRISONBURG, Va., March 7, 2013 – With seven games left on its season-opening 22-game road trip, the James Madison softball team travels to Myrtle Beach, S.C. this weekend for the Chanticleer Challenge hosted by Coastal Carolina University. The three-day, five-game tournament is set to be played at Carolina Forest High School where the Dukes face Georgetown, Middle Tennessee State and Coastal Carolina.
JMU is 9-6 through the first 15 games of its road trip that took them to Charleston, S.C., Clearwater, Fla., and Orlando, Fla. It has played seven teams that have received votes at some point in this year’s Top 25 polls, including a win over No. 14 South Florida.
Madison is hitting .280 with a .319 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage this season. It has compiled 26 extra-base hits and walked 19 times. As a team, JMU has stolen 47 bases in 54 attempts, stealing at an 87-percent success rate. Senior outfielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) leads the way with 10 steal in 11 attempts. She is nearly halfway to her career-high of 21 steals with over 40 games left to play. Five other players have stolen at least four bases, led by freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn) with seven in seven attempts and sophomore pitcher/utility Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) with six in six attempts.
Butler also leads the team with 10 runs scored, giving her 102 in her career and tying her for third on the school’s all-time list. Earlier this year, she joined Katie George (2004-07), Ashley Burnham (2009-12) and Courtney Simons (2007-10) as the only players to score more than 100 runs. With 13 more hits, she’ll join George and Burnham as the only players with more than 200.
Two Madison freshmen have compiled a pair of long hitting streaks for the team this season. Field hit safely in the team’s first 10 games of the season to set a school record for the longest hitting streak to start a season. Rookie pitcher/first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County) is currently on a 12-game hitting streak. That is two shy of the freshman record that is shared by George and sophomore outfielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton).
JMU ranks in the top-two in offense, pitching and fielding in the conference through the first four weeks of play. JMU is second in the CAA in batting average at .280. Delaware leads the league with a .315 mark. The Dukes trail only Delaware in ERA (2.39 to 2.10) and rank first in fielding percentage at .964.
Play gets underway this weekend at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8, with Madison taking on Middle Tennessee State. JMU also takes on Georgetown on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Saturday sees the Dukes playing a rematch against Friday’s opponents, squaring off with Georgetown at 10 a.m. and MTSU at noon. They close their tournament on Sunday with a 10 a.m. contest against tournament-host Coastal Carolina.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Blue Raiders come into the weekend with a 1-14 record after splitting a doubleheader with Troy on Wednesday. They have been touring the SEC in the early portion of the season, playing in tournaments at Georgia, Ole Miss and Auburn, before opening Sun Belt play on Wednesday against the Trojans.
Catcher Laura Dukes has paced the offense thus far, hitting .346 with four home runs and 10 walks. She’s reaching base at a .541 clip and is second on the team with six RBIs and four runs scored. Third baseman Kristi Marquez leads the team with five runs and seven RBIs and trails only Dukes in batting average with a .343 mark.
MTSU has struggled thus far in the circle with a 7.73 ERA and just 47 strikeouts in 77 innings pitched. Right-hander Jordan Fisherbeck has tossed a majority of the innings, going 0-6 with a 6.75 ERA in nine appearances. Opponents are hitting .389 off of her with 68 hits in 37 1/3 innings of work.
Jeff Breeden is in his first season at the helm for the Blue Raiders. He owns a 1-14 record after coming to MTSU from Murfreesboro Riverdale High School where he went 423-67-3. He won the 2009 state championship and guided his team to as high as No. 4 in the national rankings.
The Hoyas have won two of their last three games after starting the season with a 1-12 record. They were at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic with JMU last weekend, going 2-3 with wins over Fairfield and Boston College.
Utility player Alexandria Anttila paces the Georgetown offense, hitting .306 with two home runs and a team-best six RBIs. Anttila has added four doubles and seven runs scored while walking four times in 36 at-bats. Catcher Shikara Lowe leads the team with a .462 on-base percentage, walking eight times and hitting .276 on the year.
As a team, the Hoyas have a 7.52 ERA, led by right-hander Megan Hyson. She is 1-7 with a 6.18 ERA, adding 35 strikeouts in 51 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .264 off of her with 19 extra-base hits. Lauren O’Leary is 1-6 with an 8.75 ERA in 36 innings pitched. She has struck out 32, but opponents are hitting .346 off the right-hander.
The Hoyas are coached by Pat Conlan. She is in her eighth with the team and owns a 106-247 record. In 11 seasons overall as a head coach, Conlan is 160-336.
The Chanticleers come into the weekend with a 9-10 record after going 3-2 at last week’s Coastal Carolina Invitational. They have played nine of their 19 games at home, sporting a 7-2 record in Myrtle Beach, including a win over CAA member Drexel last Friday.
Catcher Cacia Pierre is leading the Coastal offense, hitting .386 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Third baseman Kory Hayden is the top power threat with 11 extra-base hits. She leads the team with five doubles and six home runs and has driven in 14 runs while hitting .298. Outfielder Bri Chiusano is hitting .338 and has stolen seven bases in seven attempts on the year.
Kiana Quolas is the team’s top pitcher. She has a 5-4 record with a 1.90 ERA in 10 appearances. She’s struck out 52 and limited opponents to a .236 batting average against in 59 innings pitched. Ashley Bagwell is 4-4 with a 3.14 ERA, including 52 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings pitched.
Kelley Green is in her fourth season as the head coach at Coastal Carolina. She owns a 105-94 record with the Chanticleers and is 451-228 in 13 years overall as a head coach. In 2012 she lead CCU to the Big South Championship and a win in NCAA Regional play.
JMU has played nine games all-time against this weekend’s opponents, going 3-1 against Coastal Carolina and 4-1 against Georgetown. Madison last faced CCU in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic in 2011, winning 6-2. It hosted Georgetown in 2011, winning 15-1 in five innings. The team’s have met once on a neutral field, with JMU winning 2-1 in eight innings in 2008.
The Dukes have never faced Middle Tennessee State.
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