How Does Softball Bounce Back After Disappointing Raleigh Trip?
By Anthony Vasquez | @Ant_Vasquez3
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse’s trip to Raleigh started and ended with sour losses in the first ACC series of the year.
Game one saw the lineup rendered useless by ‘Pack pitcher Aisha Weixlmann. Meanwhile, the story in game two was completely different. S.U. smashed its way to 14 hits and nine runs, four of which were off of Weixlmann. All of this offense set up a hotly contested rubber match Sunday afternoon.
‘Cuse ended up dropping the finale 5-4, but despite the rough end, there are some positive takeaways heading into this weekend’s series at Virginia Tech.
NC State was the best team the Orange have faced all year and it didn’t look like it was overwhelmed at all throughout the series.
The lineup managed to string together hits at times and the pitching staff pulled its weight over the last two games. Ariana Adams pitched fantastically in abbreviated relief roles. The fifth-year transfer was in the circle for all three games, covering for failed starts and short leashes for unreliable pitchers.
She tossed a whopping 11 2/3 innings in three games and only gave up five runs throughout her three relief appearances. The Texas native is bouncing back nicely after a couple rough trips in midseason tournaments.
Unfortunately, her hot streak was overshadowed in two games because of questionable starting pitching. Summer Clark was seeing ghosts of her dismal Auburn start Friday. The freshman recorded only two outs before she was eventually pulled for Adams.
Clark gave up five runs on five hits to the seven batters she faced. If it wasn’t for Adams’ performance out of the ‘pen, the game would’ve surely ended via the mercy rule.
In game two, Lindsey Hendrix continued her hot streak by pounding the Wolfpack into oblivion with perfect location. She gave up five walks but was on her game once those runners got on base.
Her four innings of work combined with Adams’ three set the stage for Syracuse to notch its first ACC win.
Sunday starter Kaia Oliver failed to see the same success tossed by Hendrix, but once again, Ariana Adams swept in to save the day and give the Orange a chance to win it late. A costly go-ahead eighth inning homer whacked by NC State’s Logan Morris sealed the fate of S.U.
Even though the pitching staff threw relatively well in Raleigh, the bats once again failed to pick up where the staff lacked.
Weixlmann’s performance in game one was another in a string of power pitchers blowing away ‘Cuse hitters. Four scattered singles spread out over seven innings was all the bats could muster Friday.
Hitters clearly took exception to their dismal outing by erupting against a couple ‘Pack hurlers. Sam Gress came out and immediately surrendered runs in the second and third innings. Carli Campbell, Angel Jasso, and Neli Casares-Maher pounded in those early runs.
The onslaught didn’t stop there as Jude Padilla lifted a homer and four RBIs. Before you know it, Syracuse easily won 9-3.
After the crushing defeat Sunday, the Orange stand a respectable 10-6 as conference play continues next weekend against 7th ranked Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
The only other time Syracuse faced a top 25 team was the finale of the Plainsman Invitational against Auburn. Summer Clark started and was rocked while the offense managed to get runners on but were overwhelmed elsewhere.
Galipeau, Jasso, and Clark are going to have to step up more than they have all season in order to at least take a game from the Hokies. Galipeau hit just .167 over the weekend. Meanwhile, Jasso managed to hit for a respectable .273 average but managed only one extra base it.
Inside the circle, Summer Clark is going to have produce if her team has any vision of competing with a top 10 team. Her last two starts against power five opponents have yielded ugly and shocking results. Her inability to scrape even an inning before being taken out begs the question of whether she is ready for the ACC.
Time will once again tell for S.U. Softball, but all we can do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the weekend in Blacksburg.