TODAY'S SPORTS

Turner Ashby Alumna Kierstin Roadcap at Home Behind the Plate with JMU




Kierstin Roadcap has the best seat to appreciate how well Megan Good has pitched this season for James Madison.

The Dukes' junior hurler leads the country with 18 wins and 11 shutouts while ranking second with a 0.24 earned-run average. And behind the plate for most of it has been Roadcap, the freshman from Turner Ashby.

Roadcap has become Good's personal catcher, squatting behind the plate in Good's last 16 starts.

"It was really hard in the beginning just coming from high school pitching to Megan Good," Roadcap said. "You can know what you're going to need to adjust, but you don't really know. Watching her pitch and catching her is a world's difference."

JMU coach Mickey Dean said Roadcap earned the job by simply proving she was capable of being Good's catcher. The junior's velocity and movement make her pitches difficult to follow at times, but Dean said within two practice sessions, Roadcap was able to handle the speed.

"When you've got a pitcher who can throw up and down, that is a challenge for any catcher, I don't care who they are," Dean said. "It's catching that velocity with the ball moving, and [Roadcap] was able to do those things."

Roadcap said the toughest pitch to adjust to was Good's riseball, which is consistently popping the glove in excess of 65 mph. She said the key to catching that pitch was to snag it while it is still on its way up.

Good said Roadcap was doing well, and the freshman helps put her at ease in the circle, letting her focus on the task at hand with the trust that Roadcap is going to back her up.

"I can look at her and just take a deep breath and know that everything's going to be OK," said Good, a Fort Defiance graduate. "We communicate well and she tells me what I'm doing wrong. If she sees something that I don't recognize that I'm doing, she'll tell me and it's kind of like that quick adjustment I can make."

In addition to her defensive performance, Roadcap has shown off her strength at the plate. The freshman has hit three home runs in 41 at-bats, including a grand slam in her debut on Feb. 17 against South Florida. Last weekend, Roadcap went 4-of-7 at the plate and slugged her other two homers to earn Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week honors.

She said she spent a lot of time in the fall working on machines while adjusting to college pitching from a different angle at the plate.

"Everything's faster, everything moves," Roadcap said. "It's not just hitting fastballs down the middle anymore."

Roadcap is one of five freshmen who have started at least 10 games for the Dukes. She'll have her first chance to play in front of the hometown fans today when JMU (26-4, 2-1 CAA) welcomes Virginia Tech (13-16) for a twin bill starting at 5 p.m.

Dean said the secret to the growth in this year's freshmen is how much they want to improve this season. He said those who are already satisfied or have specific goals might be hindering the natural growth that comes with being a freshman playing a lot of softball.

"Their challenge at this point is who do they want to be? How good do they want to be?" Dean said. "The limits are going to be set by them, and if they set limits, that's where they're going to plateau. If they choose not to set limits, then there's room for great growth."



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