Photo courtesy of JMU athletics communications
By Nick Stevens
It’s Friday, which means an update to my CAA baseball power rankings as we stay up to date with the rest of the conference. The JMU Dukes are coming off a series win against William & Mary and are currently riding a four-game winning streak after taking the final two games against the Tribe and winning games against Maryland and St. Bonaventure this week.
The Dukes remain in seventh place in the CAA with a 4-8 conference record, however, the three teams ahead of them (UNCW, William & Mary and Delaware) all have just five wins, so anything is still possible.
It’s Easter weekend, so this week’s look into the CAA will be a little shorter. However, as we head into the final stretch and inch close to the CAA tournament coming to Harrisonburg, VA in late May, I will be diving into the CAA in much more depth soon.
CAA Power Rankings (April 19)
1) Elon Phoenix (21-16, 10-2) (No change)
For teams in the bottom half of the CAA, they may receive some big help from Elon this weekend. The Phoenix have yet to relinquish control of the top spot and they remain for another week after sweeping Delaware. They take on William & Mary for three this weekend and the pitching staff is on cruise control. Nice record, by the way.
2) Charleston Cougars (24-13, 7-2) (No change)
Griffin McLarty can’t be stopped. He’s coming off a win over Dallas Baptist and now has a 1.32 ERA, 70 strikeouts, and is among the nation’s best in WHIP. He’s crafty and one of the most fun pitchers to watch in the CAA. The Cougars take on Northeastern this weekend in a battle between the second and third place teams in the conference.
3) Northeastern Huskies (17-19, 7-5) (No change)
The Huskies are coming off their first conference loss, however, their pitching staff has done a good job of keeping runs off the scoreboard. They get Charleston this week and Elon next week. If they come out with a winning record, then this team will be a serious threat once the CAA tournament starts. However, they haven’t shown enough to prove they can come out of this stretch to their advantage.
4) UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (20-18, 5-4) (No change)
The Seahawks rebounded well with a big series win against Northeastern and now get Hofstra for a weekend series at home. With the Huskies and Cougars battling it out this weekend, the Seahawks need a big weekend to inch closer to the top of the CAA and separate themselves from the logjam in the middle. Expect to see a lot of runs from UNCW this weekend.
5) William & Mary Tribe (22-14, 5-7) (No change)
Since sweeping UNCW, the Tribe is 1-5 against JMU and Delaware. They stay home to take on Elon this weekend, but the pitching staff of the Phoenix is making sure the rest of the league knows who is in charge during their recent stretch. While many teams are seeing their offense heat up, the Tribe are cooling off. They need wins which may continue to prove to be difficult to come by.
6) James Madison Dukes (22-17, 4-8) (+1 spot)
The Dukes had to win last weekend’s series against the Tribe and they did. They get the CAA bye this week and might not play Friday. If game two against St. Bonaventure is canceled, that means a nice Easter weekend break for the Dukes ahead of their final stretch. A rested and hot JMU team could be dangerous.
7) Delaware Blue Hens (13-23, 5-7) (-1 spot)
The Blue Hens scored just two runs in three games against Elon after a surge in production leading up the series. They now travel to a hot Towson team where the Blue Hens are 2-18 on the road. Delaware currently holds the sixth spot in the CAA and could build their current one-game lead over JMU with a big weekend.
8) Towson Tigers (8-28, 3-6) (No change)
Is Towson the hottest college baseball team in the state of Maryland? I won’t go that far, but this team started 1-11 and can now play their way into the top six of the CAA with a series win against Delaware this weekend. The bottom half of this conference is going to be pure chaos over these final few weeks.
9) Hofstra Pride (8-24, 2-7) (No change)
The Pride take on UNCW this weekend and need wins. They have just two CAA victories and Elon remains on the schedule. A series loss this weekend will make it extremely difficult to climb their way into the CAA tournament.