Seventh Inning Woes and Lackluster Defense Ruin Opening Day of Doepking Era
CitrusTV Softball Reporter
PHOENIX, Ariz – With new coach Shannon Doepking in town, Opening Day offered promise for the Syracuse softball season. An inning and a half into the year it looked as though that promise may become reality. Syracuse sent ten batters to the plate and scored six runs in the top of the second against San Diego State to jump out to an early 6-0 lead.
The Orange would proceed to be outscored 15-2 over the next 12 and a half innings, as Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) dropped both of its first two games of the season, first losing 9-8 to San Diego State (2-0, 0-0 Mountain West), before being shut out 6-0 by No. 4 Oklahoma.
After jumping out to the 6-0 lead against SDSU, Alexa Romero failed to record an out in the third inning before the ace was pulled in favor Hofstra transfer Sophie Dandola. Romero gave up three runs, but one was unearned following a pair of errors, one committed by second-basemen Gabby Teran, and one by Romero.
Defensive errors ultimately proved the deciding factor in the contest, as the Orange entered the bottom of the seventh three outs from starting the year with a win, and a five-run cushion for Dandola.
Dandola walked leadoff batter Kelsey Munoz, then gave up a single to Molly Sturdivant. Then came an error by Bryce Holmgren allowing Alicia Garcia to load the bases. Then came Teran’s second error of the game, allowing the Aztecs to score their fourth run.
Dandola managed to pick up two groundouts and the Orange led 8-4 with one out to go, but Taylor Adams shot a two-run single through the left side to make it 8-6.
Then came the third error of the inning, and fifth of the game, for Syracuse as Hannah Dossett couldn’t make the play at first, allowing a seventh Aztec run to cross.
Katie Byrd then slapped the walk-off two-run single into right to cap a six-run seventh inning. Of the six runs only one was earned.
Game two brought a different tone, but ultimately the same result. Mariah Lopez, who pitched to a 1.56 ERA last season, silenced the Orange bats, tossing a masterful one-hit complete game shutout for the fourth ranked Sooners. Syracuse mustered only four base runners in 25 at-bats against the Oklahoma ace.
However, the Orange pitching kept the game close, giving up only two runs over the first six frames. One of those runs was unearned, following a Holmgren error in the top of the sixth.
Once again though the seventh inning reared its ugly head, as before Syracuse could take its last turn at-bat, the Sooners loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice, a single and a hit-by-pitch (the second of the game by SU pitching). This set the stage for Lynnsie Elam’s bases-clearing double to effectively put the game out of reach at 6-0. Elam had four RBIs for the Sooners in the game.
Syracuse looks to rebound when it gets a second crack at No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday Feb. 9 at 4:00 p.m. followed by a meeting with Grand Canyon University at 8:30 p.m.