Balanced approach will be key in sinking the Pirates
Coming out of a pair of wins in a double header against Sam Houston State, the softball team has turned its attention to the conference opening series against the East Carolina University Pirates.
The Cougars are 6-2 in their last eight games and are looking to set the tone for conference play in their next six in-conference games. The Pirates are sitting at 14-16 on the season, but they are 8-1 in their last nine games, seemingly having found their groove.
On paper, the Cougars have the advantage in batting and pitching. They’ve scored more runs, hit for more extra bases and have a higher total batting average than the Pirates.
The Cougars’ best power hitter is sophomore Sarah Queen, and she leads the team in both home runs and RBIs. To further emphasize the importance at the plate for the Cougars, look no further than their run discrepancy in wins and losses. In wins, the Cougars have scored an average of 5.8 runs per game; in losses, 2.4.
The magic number for the Cougars seems to be five. They have not lost a game this season in which they have scored at least five runs, and the team is 5-9 when it scores less than five. The Cougars will need a team effort to put some runs on the board and get early leads against the Pirates.
On the mound, the Cougars’ best weapon will be junior Savannah Heebner. She has already racked up 12 wins this season, which is only two less than the Pirates’ entire roster.
Heebner will be complimented by junior Presley Bell and sophomore Trystan Melancon. The three pitchers have a cumulative ERA of 1.41, while the Pirates’ rotation is currently sitting on a 3.03 ERA for the season.
The trio’s solid performances have been essential this season. In wins, the pitching rotation has allowed only 1.6 runs per game, but in losses that number climbs to 4.1.
If head coach Kristin Vesely can keep her team focused, then it will have the talent needed to sink the Pirates. Should the Cougars overlook the Pirates because of their sub .500 record, they could be in for a long weekend.
The games against ECU will take place from Friday to Sunday in Greenville, North Carolina.