National Power Dukes’ Softball Starts Season in Style and Women’s Hoops Back in First (and Men’s hoops and lax)
So we’ve reached that busiest time of the year on the JMU Sports calendar when winter and spring sports are both in action. Here at JMUSB we really can never keep up, but it feels even tougher this year after happily burning ourselves out with the long glorious football season and with men’s hoops in what we can only hope we’re not overly generous in calling a “transitional” period at the start of the Coach Rowe era. Alas, as always we can count on JMU’s women’s teams to rekindle our enthusiasm in the best ways.
First and foremost, Coach Mickey Dean, superstar Megan Good and the 14th ranked softball team kicked off their season in style going 3-1 in a batch of games in Charleston, South Carolina. The trip was a highlighted by a 6-0 beatdown of SEC power and fellow ranked team Missouri in Game 1 and solid, handling-their-business wins of 13-3 and 4-0 over Charleston Southern and an underrated-but-RPI-appreciated USC-Upstate team. The Dukes did drop the rematch with Missouri 8-4 in the final game, but that game featured 5 unearned runs from the Tigers. In other words, what we know the Dukes need when Good isn’t on the mound (strong offense and pitchers stepping up) both seemed off to a good start this weekend with a solid debut in the circle from Freshman Oddici Alexander and some decent work from R-Sophomore Jessica McCabe. Next weekend the Dukes travel to Clearwater, Florida where they’ll get more shots against big names, this time the Big 12’s Oklahoma St., the B1G’s Wisconsin, and a strong AAC squad in South Florida.
In more P5-destroying news, the lacrosse team went up to Ann Arbor and poleaxed Michigan 18-6 this weekend. And that was on the heels of giving #1 and defending National Champion North Carolina all they could handle earlier in the week in a back-and-forth slugfest they just missed in a 16-14 defeat. Next up, the Dukes will be in Blacksburg to take on Steve Bannon’s Hokies (sorry, the fact he’s a VT alum is just too crazy not to mention) Wednesday at 4 p.m. with streaming coverage on ESPN3. Our prediction: 21-16 Dukes of course.
Finally, Ms. Hall and the Precious-ettes sort of reversed their usual roles on a rare day of struggles (at least for three quarters) for JMU’s second all-time leading scorer. The Dukes fought their way through a horrendous third quarter and rode a reading-day crowd to a win over Elon and right back into first place in the CAA with a couple weeks to go. After scoring 41 last time out vs. the Phoenix, Elon made a great effort to slow down Hall and force others to beat them. And beat them they did! Amber Porter took over on offense in the first half on her way to a career high 20 points, Savannah Felgemacher went full Windex-Woman in cleaning the glass with 12 boards, and Logan Reynolds generally did her beautiful hustle/scrappy all over the floor thing. Which all gave Precious Hall time – over three quarters – to hang in there and end up getting hot late to close out the only team ahead of them in the standings.
Ok, ok, so I guess we also have to make some sort of comment on the men’s hoops team losing a heartbreaker (of decidedly non-epic proportions) to fellow CAA cellar-dweller Delaware 58-57 on Saturday. The only real comment is that this loss almost certainly puts JMU back in their customary slot on Pillow-Fight Friday at the CAA Tourney in Charleston in a few weeks. When these games were in Richmond, it “might’ve” been worth it to attend that two-game slate of horrible ball, but a trip to the Holy City is almost certainly out of the question unless they make the weekend.