Beyond the Box Score: A Deep Look into Syracuse’s Conference Woes

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2022 at 3:24 pm by Sports Editor

By Anthony Vazquez | @Ant_Vazquez3

Syracuse Softball prepares for a three-game weekend set against Notre Dame in relatively unfamiliar territory. Its 19-12 record more than halfway through the season with an inexperienced team is quite remarkable.

Remember, this is a squad that hasn’t finished over .500 since 2018. That year was also the last in a string of three consecutive winning seasons on the hill.

Despite the fast start to this season, there are still some glaring weaknesses that have been exposed numerously as the competition gets stiffer. Seven games over .500 sounds like a great start, but a 3-8 ACC record shows the lack of competition early on played an important role.

As the daunting gauntlet of a stiff ACC schedule continues, let’s go beyond the box score to figure out what’s been missing in the recipe for S.U.’s success.

The hitting, which has been the weakness of the team the whole season, is continuing to turn in poor efforts. Syracuse has been hitting at a respectable .291 clip through 31 games but its .209 conference batting average is dead last in the ACC. To put that into perspective, Virginia Tech leads the conference with a .369 clip while Syracuse’s next opponent, Notre Dame, is second at .322.

The issues against familiar foes are not limited to a certain part of the order or particular players. Everyone in the lineup has been ice cold. Neli Casares-Maher and Angel Jasso lead the team with measly sub-.270 averages while Kelly Breen is toiling at just .217.

Power hitting lefty Tessa Galipeau, designated player Taylor Posner, and Paris Woods are all hitting under the Mendoza line.

Also trending down for the swinging orange is almost every stat you can name. From on-base percentage to slugging percentage if you throw out a stat, it’s probably going down. The team’s OPS also drops 250 points to .586. In the rare occasion a runner does get on base, the lineup continually fails to bring them in. 2.5 runs per game is not even close to being enough to win ACC ballgames no matter how dominant the pitching is.

Speaking of the staff, it’s been more of the same for the ‘Cuse. Summer Clark has virtually fallen off the map after a short stint as the team’s ace in the nonconference. The freshman’s 3.15 ERA looks good on paper but a 33.60 mark in 2 conference games does not. She’s been so ineffective that coach Shannon Doepking is passing her up in favor of lesser proved starter Kaia Oliver.

Syracuse’s other two reliable pitchers, Ariana Adams and Lindsey Hendrix are also seeing massive turns for the worse in their stats. Adams’ WHIP, ERA, and batting average against are all inflated while Hendrix’s marks follow the same downward trend.

However, the freshman southpaw has been holding her own against quality hitters now that she’s really finding her groove as the season continues. Hendrix has been the only player on both sides of the ball to scratch the surface of improvement during ACC play.

As a team, S.U. is pitching to the tune of a 5.02 ERA and a gaudy .293 batting average against. Like the batting order, any stat that can be calculated is probably going in the wrong direction.

Fortunately, there’s still time to right the ship if you’re the Orange. 12 conference games mixed in with some nonconference bouts await. Time will tell if this young squad climbs out of its slump and captures its first winning season since 2018 or finishes the year off without a whimper.

All we can do now is wait for the Irish to come to town before we can make any more conclusions.