Image courtesy of JMU athletics commnications
By Nick Stevens
We’re another week closer to the CAA tournament at Veteran’s Memorial Park, meaning another week of chaos in the conference standings. Thanks, UNC-Wilmington.
Only the top six teams will compete in Harrisonburg for the CAA title and after another week of competition, we’re further away from knowing who those six teams will be. Here’s where each team stands, entering Friday’s slate of games.
|William and Mary||7||11|
This week’s schedule:
Elon @ Hofstra
Charleston @ William and Mary
Towson @ James Madison
Delaware @ UNCW
CAA Power Rankings (May 2)
1) Elon Phoenix (27-19, 16-2) (No change)
Is the CAA a two-team race? Elon swept the Northeastern Huskies last weekend, much to the pleasure of the rest of the conference. The Phoenix now have almost as many conference wins (16) as the second and third-place teams in the conference have combined (17). Kyle Brnovich struck out 13 Huskies in six innings, George Kirby fanned eight and walked none (shocker) in his seven innings on Saturday, and Sunday starter Jared Wetherbee threw eight-shutout frames in his start. No team in the CAA can match this rotation, which is why both Baseball America and D1Baseball.com have Elon as the lone CAA representative in the NCAA Regionals.
2) Charleston Cougars (28-16, 10-5) (No change)
The Cougars, shockingly, stumbled against UNCW last weekend, dropping two of three in their series. Griffin McLarty tied his season-high with 11 strikeouts on Friday, before his bullpen allowed the Seahawks to climb back. Charleston hits the road for two of their final three series in the CAA, but draw William and Mary, Towson, and Delaware. If I don’t get a George Kirby/Griffin McLarty showdown in the CAA tournament, I’m going to be highly disappointed.
3) James Madison Dukes (25-19, 6-9) (+1 spots)
Sunday wasn’t pretty for the Dukes, however, they won their weekend series against Hofstra last week and now find themselves in a four-way tie for fifth place in the CAA with a 6-9 conference record. JMU entered last weekend in last place and could now end this weekend in as high as third place. Kevin Kelly and Nick Stewart are hitting their groove at the right time and the bullpen is as dominant as ever. The Dukes welcome Towson to Harrisonburg this weekend. Anything less than a series win is inexcusable.
4) UNC-Wilmington Seahawks (23-24, 7-8) (+1 spot)
Last week, I said a desperate UNCW team is a dangerous team and then the Seahawks took two of three from Charleston. After free-falling in the standings and struggling to find wins, UNCW now finds itself in third place and full of momentum going up against Delaware. Junior infielder Cole Weiss is now hitting .305 and riding an 8-game winning streak. The Seahawks took two big games last weekend with their leadoff hitter Greg Jones going ice cold at the plate. Watch out, Delaware.
5) Northeastern Huskies (20-24, 8-10) (-2 spots)
I think I can now say Northeastern is exactly who I thought it was. After slowly moving up the power rankings since I started this series, I’m dropping the Huskies down to fifth after being swept by Elon. They don’t have the pitching or roster to make a deep run. While they won’t go down quietly, Delaware, JMU and UNCW are all more dangerous teams. The Huskies came out of their six-game stretch against Elon and Charleston with a 1-5 record and just 20 runs scored, seven of them coming in their lone win. That won’t cut it.
6) Hofstra Pride (13-26, 6-9) (No change)
Credit to the Hofstra Pride for a solid weekend in Harrisonburg. They dropped two of three but exploded for 10 runs to salvage a win last Sunday. Their two losses to the Dukes were by a combined three runs and Saturday’s loss came thanks to a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch. The Pride are gritty and have a legitimate shot to take one win away from Elon. One is all they will need to stay in the CAA hunt. Catcher Vito Friscia chipped in six hits, including two home runs, last weekend. He’s the best hitter in this lineup and has game-changing potential.
7) Delaware Blue Hens (17-27, 6-9) (No change)
Delaware is coming off the CAA bye last weekend and now gets a huge series against UNCW. It split a series against Villanova and is coming off a win against St. Joes, so both the Blue Hens and Seahawks are riding high. Can Delaware’s pitching staff, which hosts 5.99 team ERA and 33 home runs allowed, contain UNCW?
8) Towson Tigers (12-31, 6-9) (No change)
Towson appeared down and out for much of the season, but a series win against Delaware and a win against William & Mary have the Tigers right in the thick of the CAA. The bats are starting to heat up, but they face one of the top pitching staffs in the CAA this weekend when they travel to JMU. Towson is 0-5 in their last five contests against the Dukes and allowed 35 runs in three games last season. Those games were at home.
9) William & Mary Tribe (25-19, 7-11) (No change)
Oh, the Tribe. William & Mary is 3-9 over its last 12 conference games and welcomes Charleston to Williamsburg this weekend. Charleston is coming off a series loss to UNCW, so watch out for the league’s top offense to take out its frustrations against the Tribe. However, as long as Bodie Sheehan is leading this rotation, the Tribe will compete.