The JMU baseball team had potential in its batting order heading into the season. However, the team struggled out of the gate. After a slow start in which the Dukes only put up six or more runs three times in their first 12 games, the JMU offense has started to turn it around. In its last 11 games, JMU has put up six runs or more multiple times including a three-game stretch from March 6-9 when the Dukes put up a total of 44 runs.
The offensive turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time as JMU just started CAA play against Elon last weekend. At 13-10, the Dukes have the potential to make their presence known in the CAA, especially with the new and improved pitching staff they’ve rolled out this year. The Dukes' staff sports a team ERA of 3.69, which is significantly better than its final 2017 mark of 5.57.
One of the leaders of the offensive turnaround has been star senior outfielder Adam Sisk. After being named to the preseason All-CAA team earlier this year, Sisk has been a force. He leads the team among qualified players in slugging percentage (.539) and is tied for the team lead in hits (17), RBIs (17), home runs (4) and walks (14). Sisk embraces being a leader for the Dukes and knows his team is just tapping in to its offensive ability this season.
“During the season I just try and focus on our team goals,” Sisk said. “I know that if I’m able to contribute to the team, then my individual goals will take care of themselves.”
After a tremendous freshman campaign, which led to CAA All-Rookie honors, sophomore infielder Fox Semones has, once again, an impressive to start the season. He’s currently second on the team in batting average at .308 and is tied with Sisk for the team lead in RBIs at 17. During JMU’ s three-game stretch of 44 runs, Semones was among the leaders on the team in hits (5) and RBIs (7).
“We implemented a new two-strike approach because a lot of guys had been striking out with runners in scoring position,” Semones said. “We took this approach to really move guys around and it’s been working.”
Head coach Marlin Ikenberry knew it wasn’t long before his team started to do damage with the bats. His team has plenty of powerful hitters that can make a statement at any point in games, which shows in the team’s 19 home runs — third in the CAA — so far this season. Ikenberry has been impressed with the contributions he’s received from his veteran sluggers and his underclassmen, such as freshman infielder Josh Jones who leads the team in batting averages at .380.
“The biggest thing has been getting guys in the right spots and just playing offense,” Ikenberry said. “We’ve been doing a little bit of everything from hitting and running to bunting, and you know once we got that going, it freed the other guys up to be more aggressive and swing the bats.”
Although JMU lost its first CAA series against Elon over the weekend, there’ll be plenty of chances for the Dukes to recover. JMU hosts conference foe Northeastern on Friday and hopes to make a statement with a series win. If the Dukes are able to continue to bring the lumber, then that’s more than a possibility.
Contact Connor McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter at @TheBreezeSports.