Photo by Tyler Meuter

The softball team earned its first two wins of the year at the University of California – Santa Barbara Tournament this past weekend while also securing the 500th career win for head coach Shelley Horner. Unfortunately, the team also lost three games during the tournament to drop their overall record to 2-9 entering the doubleheader against Mercer on Wednesday. Here are five key takeaways for Jackets fans from this series.

Offense Needs consistency

In two of Tech’s three losses over the weekend, the Jackets were held to a total of one hit. They were on the wrong side of a no hitter by UC Santa Barbara’s Ashley Ludlow in a 4-0 loss and managed just one hit, one run and one RBI (all by center fielder Samantha Pierannunzi) in a 3-1 loss to South Carolina.

It is hard to win games with so few runners on base. Fans knew that Tech’s pitching would be vulnerable entering the season, so it was essential that rotation be supported by robust offensive play. If the hitters are unable to hold up their end of the bargain, the future will hardly brighten.

Anderson the Workhorse

Speaking of the rotation, Tech starting pitcher Emily Anderson threw in all five games in the tournament, racking up 19.1 total innings pitched. She fared better in some outings compared to others, allowing just two hits and no runs in a 2-0 victory over Southern Utah while giving up six earned runs in a complete game (but also a loss) to UC Santa Barbara.     Anderson, a sophomore and LaGrange, Ga., native posted a 6.45 ERA last season, and struck 17 hitters with pitches over the year. Improving her control will be key to this team’s performance in the games to come. The more innings she pitches, the more comfortable she will become, but the team will surely look to avoid tiring her arm in the early goings.

Sonnon’s early stride

Sophomore outfielder Draven Sonnon had her best game of the season so far on Friday night, hitting 2-for-3 with two runs, a double and a home run. She also notched two RBIs on a triple in Game 2 and eventually scored herself from there. Her production cooled later in the series, but that early production showed a glimpse of her potential as an
offensive threat.

Sonnon, another sophomore, had an ice-cold freshman year, batting a disappointing .105 and striking out (13 times) more than she got hits (4 times). She also failed to notch an extra-base shot, so providing two in one game is a
refreshing outcome and perhaps even a suggestion that Sonnon may finally begin to
realize the potential that made her Gwinnett County’s Offensive Player of the Year as a high
school senior.

For a team looking for any signs of life, that potential is an exciting development at this early point in the season. Whether it will hold as the schedule continues remains up in the air.

Team Effort

Softball is obviously a team sport, and the Jackets exemplified that by having seven different players score for the team on Saturday alone. Offensive production will have to come from all players in all positions in order for the team to be successful. With so many runners showing their abilities to score, the team simply needs to hit more consistently in order for the wins to come to them a little easier. Should a few players develop a hot streak, it will complicate things for opposing pitching staffs; if they choose to walk a power hitter, they will nonetheless face a lineup that is more than happy to drive in runs should it be given the opportunity at the plate.

Close when it Counts

The Jackets lost 3-1 to South Carolina (13-2 overall record) in the final game of the tournament, which actually bodes well for them heading into ACC play. The competition usually intensifies as conference play begins, and the Jackets showed that they can keep it close against impressive teams. Winning is another matter.