The JMU softball team took the field for the first time in CAA tournament play Wednesday, beating the College of Charleston 12-0 in five innings. Junior pitcher Odicci Alexander — recently named CAA Pitcher of the Year — notched her 21st win of the season, allowing just two hits and tossing seven strikeouts.
It was a culmination of all-around prowess, and the Dukes showed why they’re rising in the national polls. While Alexander kept the Cougars’ offense at bay, she praised the offense for putting her in a good position after the game.
“The way the lineup hit, the defense played, it was awesome.” Alexander said. “It made me relaxed in the circle… getting two innings off of me, that helps a lot.”
The Dukes came out of the gates with hot bats, putting up three runs off five hits in the first inning. Junior utility player Kate Gordon said after the game that coming out strong was the main focus for the team.
“We were really anxious to set the tone, and all week we’ve been preparing to set a tone just like we did right there,” Gordon said. “[The] regular season is over, so we put that behind us. This is a whole new season, a whole new team. We focused on [College of Charleston] like they’re the best team in the country, and that’s how we prepare and practice for every team.”
Gordon was a huge offensive force for JMU, going 2-for-2 with three RBIs and a home run. That home run gave her the program record for most runs scored in a season with 57 and also puts her one run shy of the single-season home run record. When asked if she was aware of the record, Gordon explained that she tends to keep those things out of her mind.
“I honestly couldn’t even tell you how many [runs] anyone has,” Gordon said after. “I just go out there with an empty mind and swing… once you start listening to noise, you’re fogged up in the batter’s box.”
The Dukes kept the offensive production up as the game went on, but instead of hitting, the team used its discipline at the plate, walking four times in the third inning. Three of those walks drove in runs. Head Coach Loren LaPorte praised her team’s patience and plate discipline after the game.
“What I’m most proud of are the walks that we drew,” LaPorte said. “That shows a lot, just being disciplined at the plate, forcing the pitchers to bring the ball over the plate so we can hit the ball hard and hit it out.”
The Cougars looked to be regaining life offensively in the fourth inning, with a runner at third with one out after a double and a heads-up play to reach third on a mishandled pitch. Alexander shut down any hopes of a spoiled shutout, though, striking out the next two batters and ending the inning.
The No. 1 Dukes will play the No. 2 Phoenix of Elon tomorrow at noon. Elon handed JMU its only CAA loss this season, beating the Dukes three to five at Veteran’s Memorial Park in March.
Contact Will Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more softball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.