Apr 6 / Rob

President Alger Brings the Heat

Alger Pitching

There’s a lot going on in this picture. Yeah, it’s everyone’s favorite backwards cowboy hat wearing, Bryan Schor lookalike university president tossing out the ceremonial first pitch, but it’s more than that. We love it. And for so many reasons. The Jim Harbaugh approved sartorial choices. The full extension on the release. The fact that it’s a slow pitch lob before a fast pitch game. (Is that normal?)

But the lesson here is clear folks. If you every get asked to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, be careful. Because even if it’s perfectly executed and far from a Baba Booey or 50 Cent sort of disaster, snarky bloggers with nothing else to write about in the offseason will find slightly awkward still frames and poke fun for no good reason.

Cheers to President Alger for doing this and h/t to @ryanbarto for the pic.

 

Apr 3 / Todd

Softball Rolling, Good Ties Ford, UVa Up Next

We realize there are lots of spring sports doing lots of great things. And we realize the Spring Football Game is coming up this Saturday, but it’s just impossible not to keep talking softball. Over the weekend, not only did they win the series of Charleston with a walk-off comeback, but Megan Good tied her predecessor Jailyn Ford for the program record of 82 wins. Her career record stands at 82-7. Read that last sentence again and tell me how we can talk about anything else right now? And go back and watch the highlights in those links and tell me you wouldn’t love to go catch a game? (Hoping to be in Chapel Hill on the 26th for the last P5 matchups of the regular season). If you’re in or near the ‘Burg, the Dukes host that school from over Afton Mountain that is basically an institutional representation of a boat shoe in a doubleheader in tomorrow!

The team stands at 30-5 on the season and is on the fringe of the top ten nationally. We should note they’ve dropped a game in each CAA series so far and it’s really hard to see them moving into the top eight like last year which would set up another home super-regional. The Dukes also need the offense to kick in with some run support when Good isn’t on the mound to take some pressure off of Freshman #2 Odicci Alexander and the rest of the staff.

Finally, the Duke Club debuted a beautiful piece of nerd-dom at softball over the weekend  with this shirt which we love. Orienteers, geocachers, and old guys unite!

Latitude Longitude Coordinates for JMU "Home of Champions"

Mar 24 / jmusport

Guest Post: Megan Good Is a Machine

good statsBrian Hansen knows way more about softball then we do, so he offered to write a guest post that did JMU’s wonderful softball team justice. We hope you enjoy it. 

Megan Good is incredible. This season, she has pitched in 16 games and given up runs in two of them. Her 145 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio in 104.0 innings shows just how well rounded she is and her 11 shutouts is already a JMU single-season record and conference play hasn’t even started yet. With that in mind, I decided to take a crack at ranking the 10 best pitchers in CAA history to try to help some softball newbies learn more about CAA softball.

Grains of Salt: A couple of pretty big grains of salt with this list. First, while I’ve seen a lot of CAA softball over the years, I worked with and saw the JMU team the most and so I’m a homer and partial to them (in fact, I wanted to make this list a top 11 just so I could put Heather Kiefer on it). Second, I didn’t start watching CAA softball until 2007 and so I don’t have much to go on with the players in the early days of CAA softball. It is almost a certainty I’m a missing someone from that era that is better than I could know. Also, this is a pitching specific list, so offensive impact was not weighed, only the impact of players in the circle. Finally, smart and reasonable people could certainly pick this apart and come up with something that looks completely different, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the list.

 

Honorable Mentions: Becky Anderson (George Mason); Madi Gore (Georgia State); Heather Kiefer (JMU); McCall Langford (Georgia State); Morgan Lashley (Hofstra); Katie Lingmai (Towson); Missy McCormick (Towson)

  1. Jenny Clohan, JMU (2006-09)

Notable Awards: All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team, CAA Champion

Aside from the top three pitchers on this list, Clohan may have the most impressive season of any of the other pitchers when in 2007 she posted a 1.21 ERA. When her changeup was going, it was as good a pitch as anyone had.

  1. Carolynn Sloat, Delaware (2004-07)

Notable Awards: All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team

This is one of the players on the list that I never got to see pitch and don’t actually know much about. That being said, she did make the CAA Silver Anniversary team that was voted on by coaches and administrators who saw a lot more CAA softball than I did and I’ll defer to them and add her to the list.

  1. Jessica Wides, Towson (2002-05)

Notable Awards: CAA Pitcher of the Year, 2x All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team

Another pitcher I never got to see play. She was named to the CAA 25th Anniversary Team and was the conference’s first-ever CAA Pitcher of the Year.

  1. Elizabeth Hyman, Georgia State (2005-06)

Notable Awards: CAA Pitcher of the Year, All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team

It appears she only played two years in the CAA, but put up some pretty big numbers in those two years. Hyman struck out 260 batters in 2006 and 492 in her CAA career. Led a Georgia State team that became the first to win a CAA regular season crown besides Hofstra and took the Pride to the limit at the 2006 CAA Championship.

  1. Callie Osborne, Hofstra (2004-05)

Notable Awards: 2x CAA Pitcher of the Year, 2x All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team, 2x CAA Champion

In my opinion, this is where the true cream of the crop starts for the CAA pitchers. I never saw Osborne pitch, but she was the first two-time winner of CAA Pitcher of the year and helped carry a Hofstra team that became the first 7-seed (this was back when NCAA softball regionals went eight teams deep and the winner of each regional advanced to the College World Series) to reach a NCAA regional final. The Pride won four NCAA tournament games in 2004 and two more in 2005. In 2004, she went 12-3 with a 0.79 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a .197 batting average against.

  1. Meredith Felts, JMU (2006-09)

Notable Awards: 3x All-CAA, CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, CAA 25th Anniversary team.

Narrowly edges out Callie Osborne for two reasons. First, Osborne only played two season at Hofstra best I can tell and secondly, I actually saw Felts pitch and I have a good feel for just how good she was. The only reason Felts didn’t win a CAA Pitcher of the year or two was Kayleigh Lotti dominating the league for all four years that Felts was at JMU. Felts combined with Jenny Clohan to give the Dukes a really good 1-2 combination in the circle and led them to the 2009 CAA Championship. The combination of Felts’ fastball and Clohan’s changeup mystified lineups for four years there.

  1. Kayleigh Lotti, Hofstra (2006-09)

Notable Awards: 3x CAA Pitcher of the Year, 3x CAA Champion

Threw a lot of innings for a Hofstra team that just owned the CAA during her reign. She won 82 games and the most impressive thing I saw her do was in 2008 when she pitched both ends of a double header in the CAA Championship round. That year, JMU took down the Pride in their first meeting of the double-elimination tournament meaning Hofstra need to beat the Dukes twice on the final day to retain their crown. On that day she threw 18 innings of one-run ball (which came when she gave up a home run to the second batter of the day), including a one-hit shutout in the rubber match to secure the CAA title. She pitched on the brink all day and never blinked.

  1. Megan Good, JMU (2015-pres.)

Notable Awards: All-American, 2x CAA Pitcher of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, CAA Champion

This might be a little bit surprising to some, considering the praise I lavished on Good to open this post. That being said, I have to judge Good on an incomplete career whereas the top two on the list have both exhausted their eligibility. As such, Good will probably pass one or both of them in my mind by the end of her career, but she isn’t quite there yet. That being said, Good career numbers are insane: 77-6, 0.83 ERA, 566 strikeouts in 513 innings pitched, a .147 opponent batting average and 27 shutouts. She was fantastic last year against LSU, getting the team as close as you can come to a World Series and has just as good a chance this year of getting the Dukes to the final eight. Considering the top two on this list there isn’t any shame to being listed third. Side note: considering the CAA only started sponsoring softball in 2002 there probably aren’t many conferences outside of the autonomous five that can claim a better top three pitchers all time.

  1. Jailyn Ford, JMU (2013-16)

Notable Awards: All-American, CAA Pitcher of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, 2x CAA Champion, National Pro Fastpitch League Draft Pick

I can’t really make a statistical argument for Ford above Good, but I will make my argument by saying no one rose to the challenge of a big game like Jailyn Ford. I also know I said that this list was based on pitching only, but if this was a best player of all-time in the CAA, Ford would be number one, followed closely by Galati, Good and Ashley Burnham. Ford’s curveball is up there amongst the best pitches I’ve seen in the CAA and her leadership (along with Erica Field and Hannah Hayes) is what the current dominance of JMU softball is built on. I couldn’t put her lower than second even though, I think Megan has the better statistical argument. That being said, Ford’s career numbers are pretty impressive as well: 82-21, 1.51 ERA, 815 strikeouts in 706.1 innings pitched and a .180 batting average against. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing her name in the JMU Hall of Fame when she becomes eligible and she is every bit deserving.

  1. Olivia Galati, Hofstra (2010-13)

Notable Awards: All-American, 4x CAA Pitcher of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, 3x CAA Champion, National Pro Fastpitch League Draft Pick

Galati carried Hofstra to within one game of the World Series in 2012 and she did it with the most complete arsenal of weapons of any pitcher I’ve ever seen. She had command of the strike zone and could get a batter out with a complete variety of pitches. When Lotti graduated Hofstra in 2009, I thought there would be an opening for JMU to grab control of the conference, but that door quickly slammed shut the first time I saw Galati pitch. She was a dominating as any pitcher I’ve seen outside of the all-time greats like Monica Abbot, Angela Tincher, Jennie Finch, Keilani Ricketts … etcs.

So from this list you can probably guess why only one team (2011 Georgia State) has won a CAA softball championship besides Hofstra or JMU. A great pitcher can carry you a long way in softball and Megan Good is currently putting together a Women’s College World Series-worthy season.

 

Mar 22 / Rob

Because Y’all Could Probably Use a Football Fix

We’re enjoying the Dukes success across all spring sports, but sometimes we just need a little something from our FCS National Champion JMU Football team. And we figured you did too. So while we’re all pumped to see Megan Good and her teammates vault into the Top 10, Coach Ike continue to turn baseball around, and the ladies march on the WNIT, please enjoy this video of spring practice courtesy of Coach Tripp Weaver. Football season is only 164 days away.

Mar 19 / Rob

Dukes Defeat UVA to Advance to WNIT Sweet Sixteen


After failing to earn a bid to the Big Dance, the Dukes are making the most of their Women’s NIT experience. Precious Hall and her teammates knocked off their second straight in-state opponent Saturday afternoon in the Convo. This time it was the UVA Cavaliers by the score of 61-55.

The Dukes made only 11 of 29 shots in the first half, but still managed to take a 30-26 lead into the break. UVA came out of the gates strong in the second half and carried a lead into the final minutes. The Dukes had a tough time knocking down shots in the second half, managing to hit only 34.8% overall and a meager 27.3% from long range. However, the ladies stepped up and hit the big buckets when it mattered most. Trailing 55-51 with 1:33 remaining, Precious Hall lead the Dukes on a 10-0 run to cap the come from behind victory. The highlight was a Steph Curry like bomb from trey by Hall to give JMU a lead it never surrendered. The senior scored a game high 28 points in the win. Next up for the Dukes is a home game against Villanova on Thursday.

Mar 19 / Rob

Megan Good Drove In As Many Runs In One Game, As She’s Given Up All Year

megan good pitchMegan Good is good. You know this. After picking up the win on Saturday against Binghamton, her record moved to a perfect 15-0 on the season. The win was a 6-0 shutout, because of course it was. Ten of Good’s wins have been shutouts. She struck out a a season high 14 batters and gave up only a single hit. And for good measure, she managed to hit a 3 run homer. And what’s significant about those 3 runs driven in? They’re equal to the 3 earned runs she’s given up as a pitcher all year. Apparently, it’s not enough that she be a lights out pitcher with a minuscule 0.22 ERA and 140 strikeouts. She’s also got the second best batting average on the team at .351 and a OPS of .965. Like we said, she’s good. Very, very good.

Update: Since we posted this, Good has won another game. And yes, it was a shutout. That’s a program single season record of 11 thus far. 

Mar 13 / Todd

GIVING DAY IS BACK TODAY! (with a JMUSB challenge)

keep-calm-and-bleed-purple-14Do you root?! Do you bleed purple? Do you care about the quality of education your beloved James Madison University is providing to it’s current crop of work hard/play hard students? Do you remember how much fun it was to see the incredible outpouring of Dukes love on Giving Day last year? Or heavens forbid, did you miss out on the action last year? Are you home with your kids on a snow day and just aimlessly checking Twitter because you’ve finished reading the entire internet and can’t take any more political news?

Well if you answered yes to any of those questions, today (Tuesday, March 14th) is your day! As we said last year, Giving Day is a great chance to support JMU. And it doesn’t have to be about Athletics if that’s not even your thing. There are numerous different aspects of the university you can support today. And you can do it at any level that works for you. 10, 20, 1000 dollars – all are most welcome. This is a day when there is truly power in numbers and we’re confident JMU would love to have you even if your budget is tight and/or you’ve never given before.

And don’t forget, we’re even doing our very own JMUSB challenge. As we noted last week, our individual donation levels will never win us awards or club seats, and we can hope for no more this year than a few Rootin’ Rewards, but we are hereby announcing the major very small JMUSB Official Giving Day Challenge. For every donor that notes us as their “referral” or “how did you hear about Giving Day” when they make their donation (all funds – not just Duke Club – count for us), we will donate $1 for JMUSB in addition to our personal donations up to $100. In other words, if 100 folks note us as their referral source, we will donate an additional $100 to the Duke Club. Please comment on this post or #JMUSBchallenge us on Twitter by 10:00 p.m. Tuesday (so we still have time to get our donation in even though there’s no stopping Giving Day till the stroke of midnight) to let us know. Added bonus, if anyone joins the Duke Club from the state of New Mexico at the $25 level or higher (we’re looking at you Nat Conley), we’ll match that as well, just hit us up with #LandofEnchantmentDukeClubDonor). For the record #JMUGivingDay and #ProudandTrue are the actual official JMU hashtags for the day.

So get ready to be a part of what will hopefully be one of the biggest fundraising days since 1908!

Mar 12 / Rob

JMU Sports Weekend Wrap: More Good Than Bad

Good stareIf you felt like Earth got momentarily knocked off its axis yesterday, let us reassure that it did not. It probably just felt that way because Megan Good allowed a run to score in a 10-2 victory over ECU. It was the first earned run the junior pitcher had surrendered since way back on February 17. In fact, it broke a streak of 70.1 straight innings without giving up an earned run. It ballooned her ERA all the way up to 0.23 for the season. You can do the math yourself if you don’t believe us, but trust us. She’s a perfect 13-0 on the year, with 9 shutouts, including 1 no-hitter. Along the way she’s racked up 126 strikeouts and has a meager 3 earned runs in 90 innings pitched. If she wasn’t a Duke, we’d say that’s just unfair. Good and her teammates also defeated Pittsburgh 11-0 to move to 21-3 for the year.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite so well for the Dukes on the hardwood. Precious Hall and the Lady Dukes picked the wrong night to have a very bad day. Coach O’Regan’s team failed in its bid to become one of 63 teams invited to play in UConn’s coronation, by losing to Elon 78-60 in the CAA Championship. Elon was the tourney’s #1 seed and deserved the win. The Phoenix came out shooting great and making 50% from the field in the first half. They actually shot even better after the break, hitting a 57% clip. The Dukes on the other hand were off coming out of the gates, and never managed to get on track. The ladies shot an abysmal 22.8% from the field. Precious Hall went down fighting, with 32 points. It was all Elon, all night though. The Dukes now wait and see what their post season fate has in store.

The Diamond Dukes picked up another series win over the weekend. The boys swept Coppin State in a Saturday double-header. It’s still early, but Coach Ike appears to have JMU Baseball heading in the right direction. After a couple of down years toward the end of the Spanky era, the Dukes are winning ballgames again. And they’re doing it in an exciting fashion. They scored a whopping 28 runs and 6 homers over the 2 games. At 11-3, it’s JMU’s best start since 2011. This is definitely a team to keep an eye on once CAA play starts up.

The JMU women’s lacrosse team (not to be confused with the JMU men’s varsity team, which still does not exist), dropped its second straight contest on Saturday. The Dukes fell to Rutgers 12-9 at home, after dropping a close on on the road to #6 Penn State earlier in the week. It’s never good to lose, but this team has always scheduled some challenging out of conference opponents to get ready for CAA play. This year’s no different, with a game against #1 Maryland still to come before a huge clash with #15 Towson to start league play. We’ve seen nothing so far to make us think, the ladies can’t take care of business and win the CAA.

Mar 8 / Todd

Giving Day is Back (and we’re issuing an official JMUSB challenge)!

Megan Good Pitching

If Ms. Good doesn’t get you fired up for Giving Day, nothing will!

So the ginormous success that was JMU’s inaugural Giving Day is coming back next week and expectations are rightfully sky high. Last year at this time JMU had no idea how their first 24-hour challenge would go. Expectations were low for all five funds included in the Dukes first foray into the recent trend of an all-out sprint for much needed financial lifeblood to be pumped into universities after years of declining state and federal funding. A kid from the Breeze even wrote a misguided opinion piece slamming the event.

And the Duke Club as the only athletics-specific fund was particularly nervous. They fired Men’s Hoops Coach Matt Brady on this day last year and they’d recently lost Everett Withers to allegedly FBS Texas St., replacing him with up-and-coming, but generally unknown Mike Houston. In fact, when we discussed promoting the event with the Duke Club’s hardworking and open-minded Meredith Cox a few weeks before the event, we specifically noted our hesitation because we thought the potential firing of Brady would be a bigger story to us than a silly fundraising challenge with an inexplicable treasure hunt theme.

Needless to say, both JMU and your ridiculous, moronic old-guy bloggers could not have been more wrong about the excitement a 24-hour lovefest of all things Dukedom would generate! When it was all said and done, JMU would crush their goals for the day and the Duke Club would absolutely destroy their humble goal of one full in-state scholarship, or $24,500 by raising an astonishing $128,735.00.  The University as a whole raised a whopping $338,964.00 from 2840 different donors. And most surprising of all to everyone involved, JMUSB would play a small role in the stunning haul, apparently referring enough folks and building passion for Giving Day in such a way that we would win the only non-douchebaggery “major award” we’ll ever win from the Duke Club along with considerably more famous Dukes Arthur Moats and Justin Partlow.

This year, four things have changed. First, the goals for Giving Day have shot through the roof after last year’s success and all the love flowing around the university in no small part thanks to that then-unknown ball coach. Second, JMU is scrapping the ridiculous theme from last year in favor of the much more Dukes-appropriate “Dukes ALWAYS show up!” (apparently they also wisely scrapped part two of that “for the tailgate!”). Third, Giving Day is taking place next Tuesday, which happens to be Pi Day – needless to say if you’re dork enough to write a blog about JMU sports for eight years you’re dork enough to celebrate Pi Day every year and this year we now have extra motivation. And finally, we are in absolutely no way skeptical about this event this time around. We can wholeheartedly say a) PARTICIPATE at any level you can and b) we’re not selling out by saying that for this insanely worthy cause.

Seriously, an actual award (and local brews of course)

Seriously, an actual award

On that note, our individual donation levels will never win us awards or club seats, and we can hope for no more this year than a few Rootin’ Rewards, but we are hereby announcing the major very small JMUSB Official Giving Day Challenge. For every donor that notes us as their “referral” or “how did you hear about Giving Day” when they make their donation, we will donate $1 for JMUSB in addition to our personal donations up to $100. In other words, if 100 folks note us as their referral source, we will donate an additional $100 to the Duke Club. Please comment on this post or #JMUSBchallenge us on Twitter by 10:00 p.m. Tuesday (so we still have time to get our donation in even though there’s no stopping Giving Day till the stroke of midnight) to let us know. Added bonus, if anyone joins the Duke Club from the state of New Mexico at the $25 level or higher (we’re looking at you Nat Conley), we’ll match that as well. For the record #JMUGivingDay and #ProudandTrue are the actual official JMU hashtags for the day.

Dukes won the ‘ship in football, women’s hoops hosting the conference tourney this weekend, softball and lax nationally ranked and looking at huge seasons and the love for JMU is an all-time record high, so it truly is time to SHOW the eff UP next Tuesday! Go Dukes!

Finally, fair warning we’re going to be insufferable on Twitter next Tuesday. But if it’s anything like last year, it’s going to be an amazing day.

Mar 7 / Todd

Men’s Hoops Over, Women Getting Started, Giving Day Next Week!

This is a quick post to set up a big couple of weeks coming up! We’ll start with hoops, but we really want you all to look out for a special post tomorrow. Warning, old guys are trying to catch up and we’re hoping to have lots of new stuff coming up.

Well, we’re a few days late in wrapping up a forgettable JMU Men’s Hoops season, but after a first-round win on Friday, the Dukes played hard but fell as expected to the two-seed Charleston on Saturday. This season was a strange one, as a disastrous November and December Out-of-Conference start to the season understandably fed the obvious narrative that this team was terrible and Coach Rowe was over his head. But after that 2-10 start, and without excusing that start, the Dukes quietly went a respectable and not unexpected 8-13 the rest of the way, mostly in conference play. We’ve always been most excited about Coach Rowe as a recruiter and with seven seniors leaving the program, he’ll certainly get his shot this offseason to upgrade the roster. We do feel a bit bad for this group of seniors, most of whom joined a program we all thought was on the rise after the ’13 tourney run. Cabarkapa, Lukic, Kent, Satkus, and Dalembert were all in that group (Vodonavich was around for the tourney run and Brown transferred in later) and all appeared to work hard for the program throughout their time and never had issues off the court and for that this group deserves thanks regardless of this year’s record. But an injuries to the promising Dalembert and the glaring lack of a true point this year pretty much scuttled any hopes of a better finish.

Kent JumperIn more hopeful news, the women HOST the CAA tournament (thank goodness for getting that thing out of Upper Marlboro) this weekend. They open play Thursday at 5 against the winner of UNCW/Charleston on Wednesday. They’re the two seed (sorry about the locale there top-seed Elon), but at the Convo anything seems possible.

Finally, JMU’s second annual Giving Day is coming up one week from today, next Tuesday, March 14th. Last year’s event was a home run for the entire university, including the Duke Club, and this year could be even better! We’ll have a special JMUSB challenge so come back tomorrow for the full announcement!