Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin (This content was originally published in our newsletter)
A tale of two games – JMU (28-7, 8-1 CAA) beat Virginia Tech 3-1 in the first game of the doubleheader, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to pick up a gutsy win. In the second game, the Dukes got killed. JMU lost 12-0 and didn’t record a hit in the five-inning mercy-rule defeat.
What’s this mean? Well, it could mean a few things …
The doomsday take – The offense just isn’t there. The Dukes couldn’t even tally a hit against the Hokies in the second game. JMU was lucky to score three in the top of the seventh in the first game, and it legitimately could’ve scored no runs across the two games. The pitching staff isn’t perfect, and the lineup is too inconsistent to expect this team to make any run in the postseason.
The “I bleed purple” take – All JMU needed from this road trip was a top-30 RPI win. The Dukes got that in the first game, so the second game didn’t really matter. They got experience playing a ranked team, and they’ll remember this loss as a learning experience when they’re playing in the Women’s College World Series later this year.
The level-headed take – The 12-0 loss can’t be ignored. The Dukes’ offense isn’t all that great against top teams. If Kate Gordon, Odicci Alexander and Megan Good aren’t phenomenal offensively in the NCAA Tournament, it’s nearly impossible to see this team making a Women’s College World Series appearance. The complimentary hitters are talented and are going to develop into stars, but the offensive lacks consistency, especially against ranked squads.
On the other hand, JMU isn’t going to lose 12-0 often. The Dukes have the pitching staff to hang around in almost every game they play. It’s a disappointing loss, but they picked up a top-30 RPI road win earlier in the day. Despite a -10 run differential across the games, JMU went 1-1. That’s a successful road trip against a ranked team. It wasn’t perfect, but Wednesday was a success.
The bottom line – JMU is going to be fine. The Dukes are still going to be on the bubble for earning a top-16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the first win over Virginia Tech does bolster the resume. They didn’t ruin their chances of getting a seed on Wednesday, but they didn’t lock one up either. JMU needs to keep winning.
Up next – The Dukes host UNCW (22-18, 4-5 CAA) for three games this weekend.