– Highlighted by a historic run to the national semifinals, James Madison University was named the 2021 NFCA Division I National Coaching Staff of the Year, the Association announced Thursday afternoon. Voted by their peers, head coach Loren LaPorte and her staff take home their first national honor from the Association. LaPorte, along with associate head coach Jennifer Herzig and assistant coach Libby Morris, steered JMU to the program’s first Women’s College World Series appearance where it made history. With a pair of one-run wins over No. 1 overall seed Oklahoma and No. 5 seed Oklahoma State, the Dukes became the first unseeded program to capture their first two games at the WCWS as well being the first ever to reach the semifinals. Making its way to the WCWS, JMU opened postseason as the Knoxville Regional’s three seed and swept its way to Super Regionals, knocking off nationally-ranked Liberty twice and No. 9 national seed Tennessee. Continuing on the road, the Dukes defeated No. 8 national seed Missouri in three games at the Columbia Super Regional to advance to the WCWS.
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Earning honors as the NFCA’s Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year, LaPorte, Herzig and Morris guided JMU to Colonial Athletic Association regular season and tournament titles. The Dukes, who lost only one regular season game, finished 41-4 and 17-1 in the CAA. LaPorte, who just finished her fourth year at the helm, is 148-34 overall and has led the Dukes to back-to-back Super Regionals and three straight Regionals.
Regional (respective region only) and National Coaching Staffs of the Year are voted on by NFCA member head coaches. JMU, along with respective regional winners – University of Oklahoma (Central), University of Michigan (Great Lakes), Virginia Tech (Mid-Atlantic), Miami University (Mideast), South Dakota State University (Midwest), University of Washington (Pacific), University of Arkansas (South), Duke University (Southeast) and UCLA (West) – were eligible for the national honor.