A Little Superstition and a Lot of Offense Carry Orange to Quick Victory
By Tom Russo
CitrusTV Softball Beat Reporter
It’s a known fact that ball players are a little stitious. But Coach Shannon Doepking concedes she is not only stitious, but superstitious.
In Wednesday’s loss to Colgate (18-21, 3-6 Patriot League), Doepking surrendered her position in the third base coach’s box to one of her assistants. The Orange would score one of their two runs in the game that inning.
“They went out there and we were able to put up a run,” said Doepking. “They were like, one-for-one for scoring, so I’m a superstitious human being, so I said we’re one-for-one, so go for it.”
Sure enough, Doepking spent the entirety of today’s 10-0 victory over Pittsburgh (7-38, 2-14 Atlantic Coast) in the dugout to insure Syracuse (19-23, 8-8 Atlantic Coast) would continue scoring runs.
And score they did, as the Orange wasted no time jumping out on the Panthers, setting the tone early with a four-run first inning. Gabby Teran led the game off with the first of three singles in three at-bats.
“We just had to keep our plan simple, swinging at strikes, taking the balls, and we’re gonna usually be successful and I think we saw that today,” said Teran.
Teran would come in to score two batters later on an RBI single by Lailoni Mayfield. Three batters after Mayfield, who came in to score on a Pittsburgh error, AJ Kaiser stepped to the plate with Neli Casares-Maher, who was playing in her fist game since March 23rd, on first.
On the fifth pitch of the bat, Kaiser connected, and the ball went screaming over the center field fence to cap the four-run first.
“I got all outside pitches, I was ahead of all of them, so I made the adjustment, moving up a little, waiting on it, and it worked,” said Kaiser. “It didn’t feel good off the bat, but everyone said it looked good, so I was like, OK!”
The early burst swiftly built up the Orange’s confidence.
“It’s always very helpful,” said Teran of the early lead. “It gives our defense, and Lex too, a little comfort, especially four runs, she doesn’t have all that pressure on her, we had her back too. Jumping out in front always helps.”
Kaiser echoed Teran’s sentiment, particularly about helping the Orange ace.
“It felt good, especially in the first inning, scoring right away, getting some numbers on the board for Lex,” said Kaiser. “That’s what our job is to do, make it easier on her.”
Sure enough the Syracuse starter was very appreciative, as Alexa Romero once again did her job tossing five scoreless. This time though, she had the runs to back her up.
“It felt really good to have 10 runs,” said Romero. “I didn’t have to press so much, I didn’t have to be like I have to strike everyone out. I just threw the ball like I normally do and I just spun the ball.”
With weather fast approaching the umbrellas came out in the bottom of the third as droplets began falling from the sky. Perhaps Syracuse took this as a cue that it was time to wrap things up, as in no time at all it was raining runs as well.
After a leadoff groundout, the next five batters would reach for the Orange, highlighted by an RBI single and a two-run double from Hannah Dossett to open up an 8-0 lead. Teran would put any doubt to bed as to whether this game was finishing early with a two-run single.
For Romero, she knew the game was on ice.
“Once we got the four runs, it still was pretty nice to have those runs on the board,” said Romero. “As a team, as a defense, we just knew that we had to make the routine plays, and once we got to ten, we knew what was gonna happen, and we just had to get three outs.”
Unsurprisingly Romero got those three outs to seal the deal, and the Orange walked off the field the victors just as the rain began to pick up and the fans began rushing to the cars.
As for Doepking, she confirmed she will employ the same strategy that seemed to work today.
“I am selfless, I will stay in the dugout, and I will be happy, and we continue to score, so I will continue to stay in the dugout as long as we keep having that kind of production,” said Doepking. “Today was a good day, so whatever helps us win ballgames and helps them score runs I’m good with it.”
We shall see if the stition continues to power the Orange tomorrow in game two of the series, with first pitch scheduled at 1:00 p.m.