JMU roundup: Dukes headed to NCAA’s in softball

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — After winning their second Colonial Athletic Association championship, the James Madison softball team is traveling to the University of Kentucky to play in the Lexington Regional in the NCAA Tournament opening round. The Dukes take on DePaul in its opening game on Friday, May 16 at 5 p.m. in the Bluegrass State.

Joining the Dukes and Blue Demons in Lexington are regional site-host Kentucky and Ohio in the double elimination bracket.

JMU is the CAA Champion after posting a school record 44 wins as it enters postseason play with a 44-13 mark. Madison swept through the CAA tournament, winning all three games at Veterans Memorial Park. It knocked off Towson in the championship game, 4-0, to earn the league’s automatic berth.

This is the Dukes third appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their second consecutive showing. Last year, they went 1-2 in the Knoxville Regional at the University of Tennessee, beating Longwood 5-0 while dropping two tight games against North Carolina State. Overall, they are 1-4 in NCAA play.

JMU owns a 4-0 record all-time against opponents in their regional, going 2-0 against both DePaul and Ohio. Madison has faced the Blue Demons in each of the last two season, beating them 3-1 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Fla., earlier this season and 7-5 at that same tournament a year ago. Both meetings between JMU and Ohio occurred in 2004. The Dukes beat the Bobcats 7-0 and 6-2 in tournament games played at East Carolina University. They have never faced the University of Kentucky.

The Lexington Regional is paired with the UCLA Regional for Super Regional competition. The winner of the bracket between Kentucky, JMU, DePaul and Ohio faces the winner of UCLA, Notre Dame, Long Beach St. and Southern Utah.

Hofstra received an at-large bid, giving the CAA two bids for the second consecutive season.

Women’s lacrosse

GRAND LAKE, Colo., May 12, 2014 – Three members of the James Madison lacrosse team earned spots on the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association All-South Region Second Team. Juniors Stephanie Finley, Lexi Cross and Ali Curwin were honored on the all-regional squad, the IWLCA announced Monday.

Finley was named co-Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and the All-CAA First Team after the regular season. She was also named to the CAA All-Tournament Team after the Dukes advanced to the league championship game. In 2014, the junior attacker led the Dukes with a single-season program record 69 draw controls alongside a team-leading 44 goals and 59 points.

Cross earned 2014 All-CAA First Team honors as well as CAA All-Tournament team accolades. The defender was second on the roster in ground balls and first among field players, scooping up 33 loose balls this season. She also was third on the team in caused turnovers, forcing opponents to give up the ball 16 times in 2014.

Curwin joined her teammates on the All-CAA First Team this season and was named to the CAA All-Academic squad. The midfielder tied for a team-high 22 assists and was third on the team with 27 goals and 49 points. She added 31 ground balls (third), 26 draw controls (tied-third) and 13 caused turnovers (fifth).

JMU finished the 2014 season with an 11-7 overall record. The Dukes won a share of the regular-season title with a 4-1 record against CAA foes and were the CAA championship tournament runners-up after falling 12-11 in overtime of the title game to Towson.

The three Dukes are part of 128 student-athletes selected to either the first or second team in each of the four regions. The CAA fielded 12 all-region players on either the first or second team in two regions.