#42 James Madison Softball 2014 Preview

James Madison Dukes

Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #1 Colonial
#42 James Madison Softball 2014 Preview
James Madison Team Page


James Madison is coming off of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009 and best season in school history, as the team won 42 games, which is a school record. The trip to the tournament was also the first time James Madison had been selected as an at-large team. Another first happened last season when the Dukes defeated Longwood in an elimination game at the Knoxville regional. The NCAA Tournament win was the first in school history.  

2013: 42-17, 18-3
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mickey Dean

Field Players:
First, it should be said what the Dukes lost. James Madison lost Sarah Mooney, a star who not only played five positions last season but also led the team in home runs (17), average (.400), RBI (67) and hits (70). Mooney transferred to South Carolina and the Dukes also lost Jasmine Butler to graduation and Morgan Heath is no longer listed on the roster. The latter two players were the third and fourth top hitters on the team.  Now to whom the Dukes have returning.  Jailyn Ford was the team's second leading hitter, having combined with Mooney to be a powerful 1-2 punch. The sophomore had quite the college debut season, as she hit 15 home runs, smacked 11 doubles and brought home 49 runs. Erica Field had a team-leading 14 doubles.  

Ford was not only a stud at the plate, but as the team's ace as well. The sophomore was part of a strong 1-2 starting rotation, joined by Heather Kiefer. Ford had a 24-6 record with 1.61 ERA and 209 strikeouts in her 33 appearances, 31 of which were starts. Kiefer is more of a contact pitcher, as she struck out only 65 hitters in over 135 innings.  

Who to Watch:
In addition to Ford, it may be the huge freshman class brought in by Dean. The Dukes' roster lists 10 freshmen on this year's squad. If fall ball is any indication, it looks like four freshmen will have the opportunity to contribute right away. Those freshmen are outfielders Nikki Prince, Mimi Morris and Taylor Newton and catcher Caitlin Viafora. Viafora might be asked to play numerous positions since Field is a catcher as well and just a sophomore.

Final Projection:
Coach Dean set up a tough nonconference schedule for the Dukes this season. The team is entered in the Georgia, UCF, Hawaii and NFCA tournaments as well as its own home invitational. Those tournaments will have the Dukes playing teams like Georgia, University of Louisiana-Lafayette, DePaul, Illinois State, South Florida, Cal, Oregon and Hawaii, all teams that are NCAA Tournament regulars. The team also has nonconference double headers with North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Virginia. James Madison will know how good it is in conference play right away when it hosts Hofstra in the first weekend of conference play.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Erica Field, C, 192
Hits: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, Field, 63
Home Runs: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, 15
RBIs: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, 49
Runs: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, 38
Stolen Bases: Caitlin Sandy, SS/3B, 13

Wins: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, 24
Innings Pitched: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, 191
Strikeouts: Jailyn Ford, P/1B, 209
Saves: Jailyn Ford, P/1B; Heather Kiefer, P, 1


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