Syracuse’s Offense Clicking and Confident in Doubleheader
By Tom Russo
CitrusTV Softball Beat Reporter
If you had gone to sleep a week ago after watching the Syracuse softball team and just woke up today, you would likely be shocked.
Over the first 28 games of the year, Syracuse (14-19, 4-5 Atlantic Coast), went 10-18, averaging four runs a game. Since arriving at the Skytop Softball Stadium for their first home game Wednesday, the Orange are 4-1, and have averaged over eight runs a game, twice the production they were posting coming in.
The offense was certainly on full display in today’s doubleheader with Notre Dame (20-12, 4-5 Atlantic Coast). The Orange split the doubleheader, dropping the first game 8-6, before winning the late game by the same score of 8-6.
All day long the Orange bats stayed hot, picking up 17 hits over the two games, seven in game one and ten in game two.
Syracuse jumped out early in game one, scoring three runs in the first, two of them coming on a two-run triple from center fielder Toni Martin. Alex Acevedo delivered the other big blow for the Orange with a two-run double in the fifth.
The Irish hit the ball just as well in the early game though, as Melissa Rochford and Katie Marino both went yard with a solo and two-run homer respectively to carry Notre Dame to the win.
But the Orange didn’t let the first win pull them down.
“It was our time to focus up and say ‘It happened, we played a good game.’ We lost cause they beat us,” said shortstop Alicia Hansen. “They played a good game. Something one of our coaches said was we had to have played nearly perfect if we wanted to beat them.”
“It’s a zero-zero ballgame,” said pitcher Alexa Romero. “There is no hits, no runs, no nothing. It’s just one inning at a time and you just start fresh.”
Syracuse certainly did start fresh, but the offense picked up right where it left off in game two.
Gabby Teran led off the game with a lineout to left. Then Bryce Holmgren walked, Hansen got a single, Martin walked, and to the plate strode third baseman Lailoni Mayfield.
Mayfield is the hottest bat in the Syracuse order right now. Entering her first at-bat in the second game, Mayfield was 7-10 in the first four home games. While she went 0-1 in the early game, that was because two at-bats ended in a sacrifice, and a third was a walk.
But her first at-bat of game two was one she’ll remember forever. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, Mayfield got a hold of an Alexis Holloway pitch right down the middle. And she did not miss.
Mayfield crushed the ball to straightaway center, making her first career home run a grand slam, and igniting the bench, and her teammates into a frenzy. The bench met Mayfield at third and ran home with her, before mobbing her at the dish.
It was the swing that best exemplified the day at the plate for Syracuse.
“It feels nice. I was glad I was able to help my team put up some runs,” Mayfield said about her blast. “It was nice to be able to score first and set the tone after the first game.”
For Alicia Hansen, it was only a matter of time before the bats started clicking.
“The offense feels really good right now,” she said. “In the beginning of the year we knew that we were gonna be a good hitting team and we were just waiting for it to kind of click with our pitching.”
As for the pitchers, Alexa Romero is thrilled to have an offense she can count on to bring in runs.
“Actually this year has been really, really great with offense,” she said. “I know that even if we’re down, we’re gonna scratch one no matter what and it’s never been like that the past two years so knowing that that is what’s going to happen this year with my team is amazing.”
Head Coach Shannon Doepking summed it all up.
“It’s about us as a team starting to find an identity of what we can be,” she said. “I think taking as many hits as we took early on it’s very hard to show them how good we really could be.”
Doepking now hopes this weekend’s success translates well going forward.
“From an offensive and a pitching standpoint, if you could have a great offensive explosion like we had this weekend, and the pitching that we have, I think the sky’s the limit for what this team can do,” she said. “I think it’s more this team getting to see the potential of what we can be.”
Syracuse’s next chance to realize that potential will come Wednesday when they head to Buffalo to play a doubleheader at Canisius (2-20, 0-2 Metro Atlantic Athletic).