The James Madison softball team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament as announced by the NCAA Division I Softball Selection Committee on ESPNU Sunday night. JMU travels to the University of Tennessee to participate in the Knoxville Regional from May 17-19 at Sherri Parker Stadium.
Joining the Dukes in the Knoxville Regional were regional-host and No. 7 National Seed Tennessee, North Carolina State and Longwood. Madison plays its opening-round game against N.C. State on Friday. The regional is a double elimination format with the winners’ and losers’ bracket games scheduled for Saturday, May 18 and the Regional final set for Sunday, May 19.
“I’m excited for our kids,” head softball coach Mickey Dean said. “You get a couple days to think about it and you wonder if you’ve done enough to get in. I felt like we had played our way into the field of 64. I felt like we had done enough, but you never know until you see your name called.”
This is the second selection to the NCAA tournament for JMU and the first at-large big ever for a Colonial Athletic Association team. The Dukes received the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic bid in 2009 after winning the conference championship. That year they also traveled to the University of Tennessee to play in the Knoxville Regional.
JMU and N.C. State open up the regional on Friday at 3:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the face the winner of the Tennessee-Longwood game (6 p.m.) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The regional’s first elimination game is 4 p.m. on Saturday with the winner advancing to face the loser of the winners’ bracket game at 6:30 p.m. in the second elimination game. The winner of that game advances to the regional championship where it would need to defeat the winners’ bracket winner twice to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals.
JMU heads into the tournament with a 41-15 overall record after finishing as the CAA’s runner-up. It went 18-3 in CAA play and set school records for both overall wins and wins in conference play. The Dukes advances to the CAA Championship game, but fell to Hofstra, 2-1.
Madison features the CAA Player of the Year in utility player Sarah Mooney (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) as well as the rookie of the year in pitcher/first baseman Jailyn Ford (Hot Springs, Va./Bath County). Mooney hit .413 with a school-record 17 home runs and 67 RBIs, adding 43 runs and 16 steals. Ford hit .375 with 14 home runs, 45 RBIs and 37 runs scored while going 23-5 with a 1.66 ERA in 29 games started. The left-hander set a school record for strikeouts with 199 and complete games with 21. Senior center fielder Jasmine Butler (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange) stole a school record 40 bases and leads the team with 47 runs scored. Three other Dukes, junior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt), sophomore outfielder Morgan Heath (Yorktown, Va./Grafton) and freshman catcher Erica Field (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park) hit over .300 on the season for Madison.
Hofstra received the CAA’s automatic bid and travels to the University of Missouri to play in the Columbia Regional.
Reserved bleacher-back all-session tickets will go on sale to the public starting at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. These tickets are $20 each, plus associated fees. Reserved chair-back all-session tickets are $25 and student bleacher-back all-session tickets $15. If any tickets remain, single session tickets would go on sale when gates open at 2:30 p.m. on Friday. Single-session (for all games of a given day) prices will be as follows: $15 for chair-back, $10 for bleacher-back and $5 for student bleacher-back.
Fans can purchase tickets online 24 hours a day at UTTix.com. Fans can also purchase tickets between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. in person at the Tennessee Athletics Ticket Office at the street level of Thompson-Boling Arena or by phone at 865-656-1200.