I know.... I know... baseball season starts today, and WE’RE TALKING TOO (sic) YOU ABOUT SOFTBALL???
Yes. Yes we are. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s fun writing about a team that has maintained an upward trajectory for three consecutive seasons. I’m not going to revisit all the records the team has broken. You get it.
The Rebels are 4-1 at the time this is being written with a game today against Houston at 2 p.m. CST. You can watch on WatchESPN.com. They went 3-1 in the Sand Dollar Classic last week with a frustrating no-hitter against Lipscomb. Certainly 4-1 is alright, but a few things have gone wrong so far.
They have a lot of room for improvement if they want to continue that trajectory from year three to year four. The next big tests comes tomorrow night at 8 PM against #3 Oregon. You’ll have to pay if you want to watch that game.
The staff, which everyone expected to be strong, has had a very strong start to the season. They’ve held batters to .183 average and sport a staff ERA of 1.56. Their fielding percentage is rather sharp (.970), which is just below last season’s stellar mark (.975).
The defense doesn’t look like a problem, even in the 3-0 loss to Lamar. Finney did give up three earned runs, but that entire score was built on one big fifth inning.
The Rebels struggled to hit through the lineup last season, and the very early returns on this season aren’t better; in fact, they’re worse. This team finished the season hitting .294 last year, even considering the struggles it had to hit the ball in SEC play. It can’t have trouble hitting the ball before conference play starts.
There is a silver lining though. Two of the top three hitters are newcomers, namely sophomore transfer catcher Autumn Gillespie (.462) and freshman short stop Ally Mena (.417).
Kylan Becker (a member of Team USA) is currently hitting just .200, and that’s not going to continue. Brittany Finney is hitless, and Celeste Wood (who hit .387 for Michigan State) is hitting just .182. Again, that won’t continue.
I think things are going to improve; it just needs to happen quickly. A win over No. 3 Oregon would be a pretty huge early-season boost. This team has to take a jump before hitting SEC play, given that it went just 10-14 in conference play last year.
The Lady Rebs could make another run into the Supers or the Women’s College World Series, but they could just as easily prove that was a fluke last season. In order to cement their status, they’re going to have to hit better and not just rely on timely hits in the clutch. We all saw the consistency it takes to make the WCWS in UCLA last year.