Syracuse Softball Struggling to Get Hits

© Syracuse Athletics. Photo taken by Michael J. Okoniewski
Thursday, Apr 22, 2021 at 9:52 pm by Sports Editor

By Spencer Pierce

CitrusTV Softball Beat Reporter

Batting average is a stat that, quite frankly, is dying. With the rise of analytics, stats like OPS+, WAR, and Statcast numbers are all the rage. 

Batting average still matters though. It shows just how reliable or unreliable a player can be. It’s a tricky thing with these new fancy names and statistics, but it still matters.

Syracuse Softball (15-15, 8-12 Atlantic Coast) is having trouble batting. The team’s average as a whole sits at  .228. If you’re not familiar with baseball/softball, that’s really bad. SU only has one player on the entire roster with a batting average over .270 in Neli Casares-Maher, who is hitting an impressive .326. The next highest is Paris Woods, who sits at .264.

This is a troubling trend that looked to be a fluke in the early part of the season but has only gotten worse. Along with the batting averages dropping, strikeouts have only risen. Five players have at least 20 strikeouts, meaning they don’t put the ball in play. Interestingly enough, Casares-Maher ranks 3rd on the team in K’s at 22, but above her are Toni Martin and Rebecca Clyde with 25 apiece. 

The players that rank in the top five of strikeouts are Shannon Doepking’s go-to, everyday players. These five combine for 114 strikeouts through 30 games. Yikes.

Batting average doesn’t show everything, though, which is why other stats have seen their spotlight increase. Batting average can’t show hard-hit balls. It can’t show balls that were juuuuuust foul. Or, as my coaches used to say to me when I played baseball and would give up long foul balls, “That’s just a long strike.” What batting average does pick up, though, is quite literally how many times you are up to bat and get a hit. 

Looking towards the bottom of the lineup, it is a desert of production. Clyde, Geana Torres, and Maxine Barnes are a few names that come to mind, as they meet the criteria of batting at the bottom of the lineup and not having the ideal production. It’s difficult, though. Watching them hit, they’re not overpowered. They’re not helpless. They get good wood (or in this case, metal) on the bat and they put the ball into play. Of course, statistics don’t show that, but my eyes see it. Trust me!

Is the death of batting average a good thing for the sport? Well, yes and no. Traditionalists don’t care about advanced statistics. “Can you get on base or not?” The new fans of the sport are intrigued by these little details. “Just how valuable of a player are you?” It’s a difficult debate that will take over the sport, whether that be softball or baseball.

Regardless, SU has to step it up over the next three weeks if they want to make a mark on this season. Hitting .228 isn’t going to get them victories over the top teams in the ACC (that extra-innings loss vs Florida State proved that hitting wasn’t the issue though). The team is young and they have time to learn, but it’s a concern for the future and something to keep an eye on. | @swlp91