#35 James Madison Baseball Preview

James Madison Dukes

Overall Rank: #35
Conference Rank: #1 CAA
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This may come as a surprise to some baseball fans. Admit it, you’re probably wondering what a baseball team that lost twice as many games as it won is doing on this list. It has more to do with what James Madison has coming back to the roster than it does anything else. James Madison finished one slot from the bottom in the Colonial Athletic Association last season but returns almost an entire starting lineup and pitching staff. With this many bodies back in action and a large recruiting class on the way, this means many pundits predict James Madison might do a worst-to-first in the CAA and surprise practically everyone. It could be a solid season in Harrisonburg, Va.

2012: 16-35-2, 10-20
2012 Postseason: No postseason
Coach: Spanky McFarland

Field Players:
As the team goes for its third CAA title in four seasons it will have a lot of hitting and a ton of speed back in the process. Senior outfielder Cole McInturff hit .360 last year with 10 doubles and 25 runs batted in, and redshirt junior Matt Tenaglia returns to the field after missing all of 2012 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Tenaglia hit .341 with nine homers and 54 RBI in 2011, so his return alone could generate tons of offense for the Dukes. Junior infielder Ty McFarland had a.330 average and 16 RBI, and fellow junior infielder Conner Brown (.338-3-33) also had a decent pop off his bat. Senior Casey Goss (.288-1-26) stole 21 of 29 base opportunities, and McInturff had 14 steals while Tenaglia and sophomore Chad Carroll each had 13 stolen bases. James Madison should have plenty of speed if Tenaglia’s reconstructed knee holds up.

Seven pitchers are back on the roster this year, but none of them have an earned run average under 4.00 and that could give the Dukes some pause for concern if a quality starter does not develop. The best of the bunch is sophomore Patrick Toohers (2-3, 4.29), who had 27 strikeouts in 65 innings, and sophomore Chris Huffman, who had 38 strikeouts in 47 innings while going 3-5 with a 4.53 ERA. Junior Trent Cundiff (4-1, 6.67) has a solid record in relief but needs a little bit of seasoning before going out on the pitcher’s mound once again.

Who to Watch:
The key player to watch here is Tenaglia. If he can duplicate his 2011 season in 2013, James Madison could be on its way to success. It is always hard to tell how a player coming back from a torn ACL will fare, especially one as speedy as Tenaglia was on the base paths. It should not impact his power swing, but his knee stance may have to be different.

Final Projection:
The lackluster pitching staff and Tenaglia’s absence conspired to doom James Madison to a record near the bottom of the CAA and out of contention. James Madison has won seven CAA regular-season titles in addition to 35 30-win seasons and seven years of 40 wins or more.  Considering James Madison played just 53 games last year, winning 40 would be a major turnaround. A 30-win campaign is more like it, especially if everyone gets better at the plate and the pitching improves.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Casey Goss, IF, 222
Hits: Cole McInturff, OF, 67
Home Runs: Bradley Shaban, C/IF, 6
RBIs: Bradley Shaban, C/IF, 41
Runs: Cole McInturff, OF, 35
Stolen Bases: Casey Goss, IF, 21

Wins: Trent Cundiff, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Patrick Toohers, P, 65.0
Strikeouts: Chris Huffman, P, 38
Saves: Chris Huffman, P, 2


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