It’s a different kind of pitching staff for James Madison this season, but so far the results have been just as good.
The Dukes, now 16-1 after a doubleheader sweep of Radford on Tuesday, have used five different pitchers this season — each of them with an ERA of 2.08 or better.
“Probably the most we’ve ever had,” JMU coach Loren LaPorte said. “We don’t really go past three very often. So that is nice, especially in the year we are in. COVID could happen any day. We get tested three times a week and are literally holding our breath any time we get tested.”
At the time last season was canceled, JMU was still looking for a consistent second option behind two-time CAA Player of the Year Odicci Alexander. In 2019, the Dukes made a run to the NCAA Super Regional. That season Alexander and Megan Good, a Fort Defiance graduate who was named CAA Pitcher of the Year four times and National Player of the Year once, pitched 88 percent of the innings.
This season Alexander is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA, but has been out with an injury the past three weeks.
She has not appeared in a game since March 12, when she went six innings and allowed one unearned run against Stony Brook. Alexander has pitched three games this year and allowed four earned runs in 17 innings with 22 strikeouts.
In her absence, Alissa Humphrey and Alexis Bermudez have shared the starting pitching duties while the Dukes have gotten solid efforts in relief from Kayla Boseman and Merideth Wells; neither of them has allowed a run.
This week Bermudez, a redshirt junior who started her career at Bethune-Cookman, got the start and the win in four straight games. Humphrey, a freshman, followed that up in Tuesday’s nightcap with her second no-hitter of the season.
With such a deep staff and a lineup that is putting up 8.1 runs per game, the Dukes’ pitchers are able to enter the circle without feeling much anxiety.
“We’ve been talking since the beginning of the year that we as a staff are going to build off each other since we are all 100 percent capable of getting the job done,” Bermudez said. “And there’s never a doubt in my mind that we won’t get runs back or we won’t score. That’s what these hitters are known for. Being able to go out to the mound with that kind of confidence in your defense and the offense, it takes a lot of pressure off as a pitcher.”
JMU hopes to have Alexander back for this weekend’s series at UNC Wilmington. The Seahawks are just 8-15 overall, but just behind the Dukes in the CAA South standings. JMU enters the weekend 3-1 in conference play while UNCW is 5-2.
“We have some minor things going on and basically rest is the only thing that is going to heal it,” LaPorte said. “We think we are going to be full-go going into this weekend hopefully. But Alexis did a great job stepping up for us and knowing what her team needed.”
With Bermudez eating up innings and Humphrey unhittable at times, the return of Alexander could give LaPorte plenty of options as her team gets deeper into conference play.
“You usually go with your top two, but I think we do look at what type of offensive team we are facing,” LaPorte said. “Do they like the up pitch, then if so we might go with our ground-ball pitchers. When it’s not quite the right matchup we don’t have to throw them in there.”