SUMMARY: Just after building background in the Women’s School Planet Sequence, the Dukes returned to campus as heroes and JMU legends.
By Khalil Garriott (’04)
HARRISONBURG, Va.—It’s not a extend to say the JMU Softball application captured the hearts and consideration of sporting activities fans—and non-sporting activities admirers alike—across the country during the previous quite a few times.
Amongst the sports figures and entities tweeting about the staff: the Washington Football Workforce, Ron Rivera, the Seattle Mariners, the Washington Nationals, Main League Baseball and Elliott Sadler. Amongst the singular legends publicly hopping on the bandwagon: Billie Jean King, Terrell Owens, Jennie Finch, Cat Osterman and Chipper Jones. The team’s run to the Women’s Higher education Earth Collection countrywide semifinals will without end be etched into institutional lore.
Followers from in close proximity to and far descended on JMU’s campus Tuesday to welcome the crew residence. Numerous hundred supporters confirmed up to celebrate the team’s historic achievement in Oklahoma City. Purple-and-gold-clad fans—some of whom waited practically two several hours on an 88-degree afternoon—lined up to greet the university student-athletes and coaches. Police escort in tow, group associates bought chills upon acquiring the heat reception from supporters of all ages, from softball bat-sized lovers to longtime loyal followers.
“We’re tremendous blessed to be in a position to be element of this,” star slugger Kate Gordon said. “It’s terrific to come dwelling to this. We absolutely like y’all.”
Odicci Alexander’s diving play at the plate was the No. 1 play on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” Top 10. The Dukes ended up the direct product in the New York Times’ early morning newsletter on June 4. Google queries for James Madison University enhanced additional than 1,000% from Could 31 to June 6.
Connected Information: President Alger wrote a to start with-man or woman reflection about the softball team. Read “Real Grit” right here.
“We wouldn’t be the place we are without having you,” head mentor Loren LaPorte advised the supporters. “Thank you so much, JMU Nation.”
LaPorte, JMU President Jonathan R. Alger, Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne and a couple of softball stars all spoke at the function. It was a celebration atmosphere music was thumping and giveaways provided posters, pom-poms, decals and streamers. Among the handmade symptoms on show had been “Thank You Dukes,” “You Go Women!,” “Proud & True: We Are the Dukes of JMU” and “We Like You JMU Softball.”
Spontaneous “J-M-U” chants broke out as the bus approached and players bought off.
“The term I would use to describe what they did is monumental,” explained Christine Prior (’14), whose most loved aspect of the match was all the JMU household runs. “It was so amazing looking at them encourage so lots of persons. It will create a more substantial fan base—both regionally and across the country. I hope it inspires additional men and women to occur to the college.”
Not only did the Dukes make it to their initial Women’s School Earth Sequence in method background, they state-of-the-art all the way to the semifinals. Together the way, they racked up a lot more firsts: JMU became the very first faculty not from a Electrical power Five conference to get to the Women’s College or university Environment Series considering the fact that Louisiana achieved the feat in 2014. It also was the initial time given that 2012 that a non-seeded staff played in Oklahoma Town, as JMU and Ga joined the 2012 LSU and South Florida squads.
The Dukes turned the first staff in the CAA to take part in the WCWS. They also grew to become the first-at any time unseeded staff to start 2- at the celebration and the initial these squad to get to the WCWS semifinals.
Some university student-athletes came out to assistance their friends, together with a handful of soccer Dukes. Football head coach Curt Cignetti, deans, administrators and Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed ended up among the dignitaries in the crowd. Workforce customers signed autographs, posed for images and soaked in all the adulation.
Tara Daniels, a diehard enthusiast of the Oklahoma Sooners who lives in east Texas, showed up donning purple, carrying a JMU sign and on a mission to get Alexander’s autograph. She’s been following the Dukes for 5 years now.
“They designed background,” Daniels said. “I do not contact them an underdog, but all people else does. We all really like an underdog tale.”
Despite currently being a varsity method for fewer than 20 yrs, JMU Softball still left no doubt that it is just one of the greatest in the country. And the JMU faithful will never ignore the magical experience of 2021.
“They still left every little thing on the field Odicci, I’m in awe,” said Alger, calling the staff a class act. “You have represented us so, so well. We are so very pleased of you.”