HARRISONBURG — In the weeks since producing one of the best seasons in program history, James Madison softball coach Loren LaPorte hasn’t had much time to slow down.
“Now we’re doing camps and out on the road recruiting,” LaPorte said. “There’s not much down time, I can tell you that, but this is a fun time of the year to work with a lot of kids.”
Since beating Michigan to win the Ann Arbor Regional of the NCAA Tournament before falling to eventual national champion UCLA in the Super Regionals, the offseason has become about building on the momentum to keep the program going forward, even after the loss of four-time Colonial Athletic Association Pitcher of the Year and All-American Megan Good.
But Good’s success continues to help the Dukes gain exposure as the Mount Sidney native has now moved to South Florida where she’s begun a rookie season in the National Pro Fastpitch league.
Good and fellow former Duke Jailyn Ford’s success at the pro level are notable tools on the recruiting trail, and LaPorte also knows that if JMU had to fall before reaching the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, losing to a Bruins team that won it all was likely best case scenario.
“It reminds me a lot of the Super Regional year of 2016,” LaPorte said. “Everybody did their job and what they were supposed to be doing. Doing what we did in Ann Arbor, it was because the team had such good chemistry. UCLA was actually a lot like JMU. After we lost, I was rooting for them. You could tell they had a lot of fun together. Out of everybody we played this year, when we made a mistake they took advantage of that. And they did that in the World Series, too.”
JMU will need to use that momentum to find some help in the pitching circle. In addition to the graduation of Good, rising junior Payton Buresch is one of three Dukes to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal along with position players Lexi Lomax and Kelsey Brown.
Buresch was second-team All-CAA with a 1.64 ERA in a largely relief role as a sophomore. Her departure leaves the Dukes with CAA Player of the Year Odicci Alexander as the lone experience pitcher on the roster.
“With the players that are in there, they have different situations,” LaPorte said of the Transfer Portal. “One wanted to be closer to home. That’s kind of the process they are in and I wish them luck. We’re excited about our incoming freshman and we are recruiting and trying to make this team the best it can be. We have to try to find an arm somewhere.”