By Staff Writer Thomas Griffin.
A rough week for UMassD’s softball team saw a string of defeats that culminated in two losses to Wheaton in a double-header last Wednesday.
Prior to last week’s events, the Corsair softball team sat at 7-4 and looked, for the moment, to be legitimate contenders for a successful season and potential playoff run.
Now, that same team finds themselves at 7-7, perfectly straddling .500.
The first game of the evening appeared to stay very competitive for much of its outset.
Through three innings, steady base hits and an untimely error from Corsair fielders brought the score to a respectable 2-1 Wheaton lead.
Those optimistic expectations for an excitingly close game were all but laid to rest in the bottom of the fifth inning, where an RBI single stacked on top of a grand slam homer spotted Wheaton a seven-run lead that the Corsairs would never surmount. The first match would end with a score of 9-1 in Wheaton’s favor.
The nightcap game showed that the reeling Corsairs could right the ship, but never quite plug up all the holes or stem the sinking. While no crazy grand slams put this game out of reach, UMassD still allowed two single-run dingers, along with four clean RBI’s, that would ultimately put MaKinna Van Horn’s sac bunt RBI – the only successful Corsair Scoring attempt of the second match – to shame.
For such a quick rise to dominance, a fall as early as this can’t really be penned as a collapse yet, can it? Is this team as inconsistent as its fluctuating record suggests?
The simple answer is no. The complicated answer, for people who enjoy looking at numbers, is that they’re, on the contrary, overly consistent in both their successes and mistakes.
Offensively, this Corsair squad champions the idea of “slow and steady wins the race.”
Not one for the dramatic, this group seems to forego the high-risk, high-reward playstyle that rewards home runs or deep base hits. Instead, in the case of Van Horn’s play, the Corsairs prioritize simple base hits, bunts, and the occasional sac to put bodies on sandbags. Giving players just enough to run the bases is a very conservative way to put up consistent runs and tire fielders out with each hit.
Their efficient plan comes with one major weakness, though – the batting core is struggling. Hits and on-base percentage are being kept at minimums.
Between these two games, where Wheaton was able to manage 15 runs on 16 total hits, UMassD could only get six players on base all afternoon, and only scored twice. Of course, this could simply be a factor of a lockdown defense and overwhelming performance on Wheaton’s part, but scoring has been an issue for UMassD in prior games leading up to the Wheaton doubleheader.
Overall, the team has a sturdy base upon which to build a heavily efficient and high-scoring offense, but to find wins using their slow and steady technique, they’ll need to steady out their performance on the diamond.