SB : SU’s passive approach at bat cause for 5-game losing skid

first_img Published on April 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img After falling behind 1-2 in the count, Stephanie Watts and Lisaira Daniels were both retired in the bottom of the first inning Sunday. The next hitter, Lacey Kohl, avoided the same hole by sending the third pitch of an even count over the right-field wall.Kohl jumped on a fastball and put Syracuse on the board first against Notre Dame in SU’s home opener last weekend. But for the rest of the game, the Orange was often down in the count, making it tough to score runs in a 9-2 loss.It’s something SU head coach Leigh Ross identifies as a problem. Ross said her team needs to be more aggressive at the plate. SU has been too patient during its recent struggles.‘I think there needs to be a sense of urgency,’ Ross said in a phone interview Tuesday. ‘Let’s attack a good pitch. Let’s not wait and get two strikes on us and get deep in the count every time.’Syracuse (24-10, 3-5 Big East) is currently on a five-game losing streak in the Big East after a program-record start to the season. SU has scored just 10 runs in those five games. The lack of run production has forced the Orange to play from behind in most of the losses.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor Ross, the offensive struggles will end when the team changes its approach. The Orange had success when it was aggressive with the bats early in the season.‘There is a time and a place when you do go deep in a count and you do want to let (the pitcher) throw as many pitches as possible,’ Ross said. ‘But I think we’re a really good team when we do have that attack mentality.’Syracuse had that attack mentality and pounded its opponents during an eight-game winning streak that directly preceded the losing streak. The team scored 38 runs in three games at Rutgers, including a program-record 23 runs in one game.But against tougher competition, the Orange offense has sputtered. South Florida and Notre Dame — currently tied atop the Big East — both swept Syracuse.Ross said the Notre Dame pitching staff was particularly tough. The one-two punch of reigning Big East Pitcher of the Year Jody Valdivia and standout freshman Laura Winter silenced the SU bats.The Fighting Irish pitching staff has allowed the second fewest walks in the Big East with 55 this season. The Notre Dame pair only surrendered three walks to Syracuse all weekend.Ross said her team knew to expect strikes. Syracuse got pitches to hit, but failed to capitalize. The Orange didn’t make the opposing pitchers work enough.‘What good pitchers hate are those hitters that jump on them early,’ Ross said. ‘And foul off balls and they keep battling in there until they get a good pitch.’With two runners on and one out, Daniels stepped to the plate in the fifth inning in that first game. She quickly found herself down 0-2 in the count. Daniels extended her arms and barely fouled off the third pitch on the outside corner to stay alive. She then fouled off four more pitches and took a ball to keep the at-bat going.Finally, on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Daniels skied a fly ball into foul territory behind third base. The shortstop caught the ball and ended the battle. Kohl followed and worked a full count, but struck out swinging.The Orange had a chance to cut into a five-run lead, but couldn’t come through with the big hit. Daniels said each player has felt too much pressure to perform. She said everyone has to play well.‘We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything — to hit a home run, to get a triple,’ Daniels said. ‘We forget there’s 25 other people on our team.’SU ace Jenna Caira said the team has to calm down when playing from behind because momentum can shift at any time. But sometimes the other team is just better.‘We faced two great pitchers on Notre Dame,’ Caira said. ‘They hit their spots. They made us adjust. We just unfortunately didn’t get the timely hits.’Ross said SU’s hitters understand their strengths and weaknesses. She said they also have good plate discipline. Now they just have to attack the right pitches again.‘The key is not missing on that pitch that you’re waiting for,’ Ross said. ‘It’s more of attacking in a smart way. It’s calculated.’[email protected]last_img

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