Underclassmen Shine for Syracuse Softball during Opening Weekend

Tuesday, Feb 14, 2023 at 12:26 pm by Sports Editor

By: Adam Gotkin | @adam_gotkin

During a chaotic opening weekend of Syracuse Softball, one of the many things that stood out was the team’s reliance on youth. In all three games, the Orange’s starting pitchers were freshmen. In game one of the tournament that was Jackie Pengel, while in games two and three, Madison Knight got the start.

For those who paid attention to this team for a while, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Some have touted this 2022 recruiting class as one of the best in the nation. Extra Inning Softball ranked this class as the 14th best in the entire nation. 

The aforementioned Knight is assumed to be the star of the class. The two-way player was named Maryland Gatorade Player of the year in both 2021 and 2022. Knight proved herself in the opening weekend. In her two starts, the Baltimore, MD native registered 10.2 innings.

In that time, she struck out nine and allowed just four earned runs on eight hits. Knight got it done at the plate too. She went 4/9, walked five times, hit two doubles, and brought home three runs. 

It wasn’t just Knight and Pengel that starred for the Cuse. Shortstop Ryan Starr lived up to her last name and led the team in at-bats and runs scored. Starr also made an impact on the basepaths going 3-3 on stolen base attempts.

The other two freshmen who saw the plate in the River City Leadoff were Kate Dorazio and Trinity Nichols. Gabby Latnier featured in a pinch-running role and scored a run against Jacksonville. 

Outside of the freshmen, many of the other main contributors were sophomores. Kelly Breen, Laila Alves, Angie Ramos, Taylor Posner and Tessa Galipeau all saw more than eight at-bats in the first three games. ]

Due to the nature of the roster makeup, you can assume that it could take some time for this team to hit its stride. The Cuse lost their first game of the season to IUPUI, a team that finished just 12-38 last year. SU bounced back though, knocking off a solid program in UNF that won over 40 games last year just a day later. 

The Cuse don’t have too much time though. Syracuse will have its first taste of power five ball this upcoming weekend. On the docket this upcoming weekend is the Big Ten/ACC challenge. Syracuse will play both Purdue and Iowa twice. Iowa finished last year 21-31 overall but a mere 3-20 in conference play. The Hawkeyes were 1-1 against ACC competition. So far this year, Iowa is 4-1.

The Hawkeyes took part in the FAU Paradise Classic last weekend and even rattled off a win against the 23rd-ranked team in the nation, Mississippi State. Iowa’s only loss came in the 9th inning to a strong FAU team.

Purdue had a similar season last year, going 24-31 overall but only 7-15 in the BIG 10. The Boilermakers didn’t face any Atlantic Coast Conference opponents last year. The Boilermakers have seen ACC competition this season. In the JoAnne Graf Classic, Purdue faced Florida State, the 4th ranked team in the country, and lost 1-8. Purdue won its other two games last weekend, both against Longwood.