Pitching expected to strength for Dukes in 2019

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The James Madison baseball team is expected to rely on a strong pitching staff in 2019.

"It is the deepest pitching staff that we have had since I have been here," said JMU head coach Marlin Ikenberry, when discussing the Dukes' group of hurlers in 2019.

JMU is led by junior Kevin Kelly, who will be the Friday starter this season. He posted a 3.74 ERA in 67.1 innings pitched in 2018 as JMU's Saturday starter before leading the prestigious Cape Cod League in ERA over the summer.

Expected to be joining Kelly in the starting rotation is sophomore Nick Stewart who struck out 67 batters in just 63 innings pitched while posting a 2.86 ERA in 2018. The third spot in the starting rotation is still undetermined but Ikenberry says redshirt senior Joe Williams could earn the nod.

Turner Ashby grad Justin Showalter (Soph.) and Michael Bechtold (R-Soph.) are expected to be serve as the team's midweek starters.

JMU's pitching depth doesn't stop with the starters. The Dukes have multiple options in the bullpen including Shelton Perkins (R-Jr.), Brett Ayer (R-Jr.), Matt Marsili (Sr.), Dan Goggin (Sr.), and Nick Robertson (R-Soph.).

"The pitching staff has become extremely tenacious in their work ethic and it's the backbone of our program right now," said Ikenberry.

The Dukes open the 2019 season at home with a three-game series against Norfolk State. Game one is scheduled for a 3 p.m. first pitch Friday, February 15.