Dabney's versatility gives Dukes options

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- Sophomore Tre Dabney is transitioning to a new position for the James Madison baseball team in 2020.

Sophomore Tre Dabney is transitioning to a new position for the James Madison baseball team in 2020.

Dabney is spending time as an outfielder during practice as JMU prepares for the upcoming season. As a freshman in 2019, Dabney had a breakout campaign as a third baseman. He led the Dukes with a .306 batting average to go along with six home runs and a number of spectacular defensive plays at the hot corner.

However, Dabney's move to the outfield helps JMU get even more talent on the field. Infielder Josh Jones is projected to be the Dukes' starting third baseman in 2020. Jones had his own breakout freshman season in 2018 when he batted .296 with 24 RBI and earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie Team. Jones missed the entire 2019 season in order to focus on academics.

With Jones back in the fold, Dabney was approached by the JMU coaching staff about changing his position and he jumped at the opportunity.

"I love the challenge and I love doing new things," said Dabney. "With my athletic ability, I think I could (have) a good role out there."

JMU returns experienced players at shortstop, second base, first base, and in the designated hitter role. With Dabney moving to the outfield, it helps head coach Marlin Ikenberry put the best offensive and defensive lineup on the field.

"It's something we talked about in the offseason with Tre," said Ikenberry. "Being versatile to where he can play infield and outfield, giving us more options...It's kind of hard not to have him in the lineup after the freshman campaign he had."

While Dabney projects to start the season in the outfield, he will likely still see time at third base this season as part of certain lineups for JMU. The Dukes open the 2020 season Friday, February 14 at No. 16 NC State.