JMU roundup: Newton named ECAC South Region Player of Week

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University freshman outfielder Taylor Newton was named the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South Region Player of the Week. Newton adds this recognition to her Colonial Athletic Association Player of Week accolade that she received on Tuesday.

Newton helped pace JMU to its first-ever sweep and series win of Hofstra last weekend. The rookie hit .625 (5-for-8) with four extra-base hits, including three home runs. She added a double, eight RBIs and three runs scored while starting all three games in right field. In Saturday’s doubleheader, Newton started her weekend with a two-run single to help the Dukes build a 4-0 lead on the Pride in the top of the first. JMU went on to win that game 5-3. In the nightcap, she drove in four of the team’s five run while smacking a pair of home runs. Her first four-bagger was a solo shot in the fifth inning that tied the score before she cracked a three-run shot in the sixth inning to break the game open and put Madison in front, 5-1.

On Sunday, the Bradenton, Fla., native concluded her domination of Hofstra by driving in both JMU runs in a 2-1 victory. That included a go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Newton drove in eight of the team’s 12 runs on the weekend.

This season, Newton is hitting .272 with a team-best five home runs and 19 RBIs. She has scored nine runs, adding five doubles, a triple, eight walks and four steals.

In addition, the rookie was recognition twice more for her performance during her first set of conference games. She was named a Player of the Week in ESPN.com softball writer Graham Hays’ weekly blog as well as being recognized as a notable performer by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).

JMU returns to the field this weekend as it takes on CAA newcomer the College of Charleston in a three-game series. Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 1 p.m. with Sunday’s final game scheduled for a noon start.

Women’s basketball

HARRISONBURG — James Madison senior guard Kirby Burkholder was named the Richmond Times-Dispatch State Player of the Year on Wednesday to highlight six honors collected by the Dukes from the state capital’s paper.

Head coach Kenny Brooks took home Coach of the Year honors to join Burkholder in a JMU sweep of the major honors. Junior forward Toia Giggetts and sophomore guard Precious Hall earned Second Team All-State accolades while redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman was an Honorable Mention.

Burkholder made the Times-Dispatch All-State team for the second year in a row, after averaging 18 points and 8.7 rebounds in 35 games played. She was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and led the Dukes to a 29-6 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Madison notched its first NCAA win since 1991 behind Burkholder’s 28 points and 18 rebounds when it beat Gonzaga last Sunday.

Brooks adds Richmond Times-Dispatch State Coach of the Year honors to his CAA Coach of the Year accolade. He led his team to the postseason for the ninth straight time after winning his third league title.

Joining Burkholder on the first team was VCU’s Robyn Parks, Old Dominion’s Shae Kelley, George Mason’s Taylor Brown and Hampton’s Alyssa Bennett. Hall and Giggetts shared second team accolades with Hampton’s Malia Tate-DeFreitas, Virginia Tech’s Uju Ugoka and Liberty’s Ashley Rininger.

The 2014 women’s all-state team is selected by Times-Dispatch staff writer Vic Dorr.