With 16 wins in 40 games and only three conference victories so far, Tech softball has had more downs than ups this season. They have struggled at home and had an even harder time when faced with unfriendly confines.
Nonetheless, there is a silver lining. Tech has already met its win total from last year. There are many lessons to be learned from the trials and tribulations the Jackets have had so far this season, and not all of them are bad.
Tech Leaves A-Game at Home
First things first, the Jackets struggle away from campus. There is no denying it. With only two victories out of thirteen away games, Tech has some growing to do. While it certainly never hurts to have success at home, the team needs to find a way to replicate those results away from Mewborn Field if they hope to take the next step. The Jackets returned from action last weekend with only one victory in four games.
Swing and a Miss
Though they have improved in this regard, hitting was still an issue as the Jackets spent the weekend in Lawrence, Kansas. The first inning of game one against North Texas offered optimism.
Samantha Pierannunzi kicked the game off with a double, and the Jackets continued to perform well offensively throughout the game. The Jackets scored in four of seven innings, and it seemed like the weekend would be a good one in terms of hitting.
That soon changed. In game two, the Jackets tallied only four hits with no runs. With that poor performance weighing on their minds, the Jackets continued to struggle through the final two games of the weekend, totaling only three runs.
When the Jackets were able to get on base, they had trouble moving runners into scoring position. In game three, Tech didn’t make it onto the scoreboard until two runs came through in the fourth inning, too little too late.
With ten hits throughout the game, the Jackets were comfortable at bat. However, that success at the plate did not reflect in the final score.
The last game of the weekend started off with a run in the first inning, but the Jackets were unable to make it onto the scoreboard for the final four frames, the game ending early thanks to the run rule. From five hits in the closing match-up against Kansas, the Jackets could only muster a single run, hardly enough even with quality pitching.
Consistency is Key
In spurts, the Jackets have shown the ability to be highly competitive. In a March homestand against North Carolina Central and Tennessee State, the team allowed two runs in a four-game stretch while scoring 21 themselves. The challenge is replicating that feat against tougher opponents, including a trying ACC slate. With 10 freshmen and sophomores on the team and only six upperclassmen, hot streaks and cold spells are to be expected.
The Future is Bright
Despite a record that suggests that little has been accomplished this season, a number of players have stepped up. Catcher Kaylee Ellebracht, only halfway through her debut season, is first in the conference in runners caught stealing, displaying a strong arm early in her career.
Pierannunzi’s performance in Lawrence lived up to the standards she set for herself last season, including her fourth double of the season to start the weekend.
Senior Courtney Ziese was 3-for-4 in the first game, helping the Jackets to outhit North Texas. In game three, Ziese earned the Jackets the second of their two runs with a single to right field, driving in Jessica Kowalewicz. Colleen Darragh was a perfect three for three from the plate in game three.
The Jackets took on UGA this past Wednesday, taking a hard 15-0 loss, and will spend next weekend in Pittsburgh sitting at ninth in the ACC table, one spot away from earning a berth to the conference tournament.
With 12 games against conference opponents left, Tech’s postseason hopes hang in the balance.