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Season shut down as JMU baseball approached breakthrough

The James Madison baseball team seemed poised for a breakthrough season in 2020 when competition was shut down due to COVID-19.
The James Madison baseball team seemed poised for a breakthrough season in 2020 when competition was shut down due to COVID-19.(WHSV)
Published: May. 21, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT
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The James Madison baseball team seemed poised for a breakthrough season in 2020 when competition was shut down due to COVID-19.

The Dukes had a 10-6 overall record and were playing well at home with a 6-1 mark at Veterans Memorial Park when play was halted.

"I liked how our guys responded," said JMU head coach Marlin Ikenberry. "I like how they competed. A lot of things didn't phase them and they stayed focused for the most part."

When the season came to a premature end, JMU had won back-to-back midweek, non-conference games over VMI and Big Ten opponent Maryland.

"It felt like we were really kind of hitting that stride and all of the pieces were kind of coming together," said junior right-handed pitcher Nick Stewart, who was serving as JMU's Friday starter.

Turner Ashby High School product Justin Showalter was off to a strong start on the mound with a 4-0 record, 0.68 ERA, and 21 strikeouts in 26.2 innings pitched. Freshman phenom Chase DeLauter led the team with a .382 batting average while also serving as the Sunday starter in JMU's weekend pitching rotation. Sophomore shortstop Nick Zona was also off to a hot start with a .370 batting average through the first sixteen games.

"I think we kind of had all the pieces we needed to be successful," said Showalter. "So it was...going to be exciting to see that all play out to see how all those pieces would fit together."

Looking ahead to 2021, JMU is expecting to again be a contender in the CAA. Seniors Fox Semones (UTIL) and Brady Harju (1B) are expected to return for an extra season of eligibility following an NCAA decision to grant eligibility relief to student athletes whose 2020 season was canceled early due to COVID-19. Semones would likely not return if he is selected in the 2020 MLB Draft or signs with a franchise as a free agent after the draft.

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