With Tech softball off to a slow 3-8 start (although two of its wins have come in the last three games), it is easy to superficially write the team off. But there are explanations for the outcomes so far and optimism moving forward.
The Value of Experience
The Jackets return seven position starters that accounted for 68.5 percent of Tech’s run production and 65.9 percent of Tech’s hits from a season ago. Tech will also have the same two starting pitchers they did in 2016.
Having this sort of consistency for position players as well as pitching will no doubt be a big boon to the Jackets. Although this consistency is coveted, Tech will have to prepare for some turnover following this season. Three of the current starters in the lineup are seniors, and among them are Jessica Kowalewicz and Sam Pierannunzi, who have been outstanding on offense to start the season.
Risks Pay Off
In the first 10 games of 2017, the Jackets have a HR/SO ratio of 0.26. In the first six games of 2016, their HR/SO ratio was 0.06. That’s a 333 percent improvement year over year.
In baseball and softball, power is a coveted tool among hitters. Home runs can be monumental in determining win probability, and they are devastating for pitchers to give up. On the other hand, swinging for the fences often means that strikeouts are inevitable. Even for professional baseball and softball players, high home run numbers often are accompanied by higher strike out numbers.
By improving their HR/SO ratio by over four times what it was at this time last year, the Jackets are proving that they are being more disciplined at the plate, while taking their chances when they present themselves. This will be a key statistic to maintain for the Jackets to continue to improve. It means that the team can generate big plays while simultaneously avoiding demoralizing outcomes at the plate.
The Jackets have turned six double plays this season through six games to rank 22nd in the nation and first in the ACC in double plays turned per game. The six double plays are already more than 25 percent of the total double plays turned a season ago (20).
The high frequency of double plays for the Jackets’ speaks to their ability to strong pitching and strong work in the field. The majority of these double plays have come on ground balls or line drives to second that also got the hitter out at first. These double plays demonstrate the quick and decisive fielding of players like Katie Krzus and Jessie Kowalewicz.
Better Than Average
Four players are hitting above 0.300: senior Sam Pierannunzi (0.419), freshman Karissa Arnold (.0412), senior Jessica Kowalewicz (0.360) and sophomore Katie Krzus (0.333), per ramblinwreck.com.
Three of these players (Pierannunzi, Kowalewicz and Krzus) are everyday starters in the lineup, and for them to maintain these incredible batting averages 10 games into the season is no easy feat. Pierannunzi, in particular, has been on an absolute tear to open the season with 13 HR, 8 RBI and a 0.806 slugging percentage.
Katie Krzus had a six-game reached base streak and Sam Pierannunzi had a nine-game reached base streak heading the Jackets’ game against Jacksonville State on Wednesday. Her ability to consistently reach base has kept innings alive for the Jackets and that has been crucial.