Picture courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By Bennett Conlin
It’s not a Cinderella story, however it’s nonetheless historic.
It’s not a shock, however there have been moments of doubt.
It’s not a David vs. Goliath scenario, however it’s nonetheless the largest triumph of the 12 months.
JMU softball is headed to the Ladies’s School World Collection for the primary time.
Each JMU softball fan knew that was a risk for the reason that season began. Many really believed after seeing the NCAA Event subject. The draw arrange properly for the Dukes.
Whereas these in Harrisonburg noticed this coming, the street to Oklahoma Metropolis was something however simple.
Odicci Alexander missed a piece of the common season with a hamstring damage, leaving the Dukes with out their ace. Alissa Humphrey and Alexis Bermudez stepped in superbly to guide the Dukes to a virtually good regular-season report.
When Alexander got here again, she rapidly regained elite kind.
Armed with their ace, JMU cruised by the CAA Event.
Coming into the postseason, JMU followers knew the Dukes might win the Knoxville Regional. That additionally meant needing three wins in opposition to Liberty and Tennessee. That’s not simple.
JMU delivered, going 3-0 and advancing to face Missouri. The Dukes might’ve misplaced the primary sport in opposition to Liberty, an exciting 4-3 win in 10 innings. As a substitute, they gutted out a win and adopted it up with comeback wins over Tennessee and the Flames to win the Regional.
The workforce was spectacular in Knoxville, catching the eye of school softball followers nationally.
In Missouri, the Dukes confronted a hostile residence crowd with a handful of wannabe umpires behind residence plate. They could’ve been higher than the precise residence plate umpire in Recreation 1.
An in depth sport all through, JMU manufactured a pair of runs within the high of the seventh to guide 2-0 in Recreation 1. The Tigers, due to a strike zone that was zapped by a shrink ray, pushed one throughout within the backside of the inning and had an opportunity with the bases loaded and two outs to stroll it off or tie the sport.
Alexander compelled a fly out.
In Recreation 2, the Tigers jumped everywhere in the Dukes. They gained 7-1, and whereas a handful of the runs allowed had been unearned, it was clear Missouri was seeing Alexander properly.
Recreation 3 noticed JMU fall down 1-0 after permitting a solo residence run to Missouri’s first batter. The Dukes didn’t stop with their season on the road. They battled again.
At that time, all of the momentum was with Mizzou. Regaining momentum on the street in an elimination sport is extraordinarily arduous. JMU did it.
JMU’s offense got here alive, simply because it had within the third sport of the Regional. JMU gained 7-2 behind a whole workforce exhibiting. Alexander was the star, however standouts like Logan Newton made big performs.
Even with Kate Gordon struggling, JMU steamrolled an SEC workforce at their place.
Trailing 1-0 after a 7-1 loss to a top-10 SEC workforce in a Tremendous Regional elimination sport is just not a great spot. JMU turned an absence of momentum right into a five-run sequence clinching win.
To achieve Oklahoma Metropolis, JMU softball has gone 5-1 in video games in opposition to Liberty, Tennessee and Missouri. Each sport got here away from residence.
No, it’s not a Cinderella story.
JMU has been to 3 Tremendous Regionals within the final 5 seasons. The Dukes got here one swing away from the WCWS in 2016.
JMU isn’t crashing the celebration. Nonetheless, what JMU did is outstanding.
The Dukes are the primary unseeded workforce since Louisiana in 2014 to make the WCWS. That claims one thing in regards to the Dukes … and the NCAA Choice Committee undervaluing this system for years.
JMU turns into the primary Virginia workforce since Virginia Tech in 2008 to advance to the WCWS.
And, after all, it’s the primary time JMU has made it to Oklahoma Metropolis.
Followers of JMU aren’t shocked one bit by this workforce. The Dukes are particular, however my goodness, what a exceptional run.
And it’s not over but.