Baseball and Softball come back from road trips with renewed focus
By Peter Melling /// Sports Editor
Following their Spring Break road trips, the Baseball and Softball Pioneers have focused their efforts towards the rest of their respective seasons. However, the teams have faced different fortunes in their NWC returns. While Baseball has lost eleven straight games, Softball has won eight of their last eleven. Both teams, whether they are playoff bound or not, will hope to have a strong finish to their seasons with powerful performances from their rookie and second-year athletes.
After going 3-0 on their road trip (beating DePauw, Williams and Oberlin), the Baseball Pios have lost eleven straight to NWC opponents. During this losing streak, the team has hit for a .204 average while surrendering 103 runs and committing 24 errors. This set of games has dropped the team to 3-18 in conference, last place in the NWC.
“In this game, confidence is key. It ebbs and flows. It’s up and it’s down. Confidence is really, really important,” said Head Coach Tom Flynn, in an interview with LCPioneers.com earlier in the season.
While the squad has hit a low point lately, there have been some positive developments. Although he has only played in 17 games, Conner Sick ’17 has put up a stat line of a .380 batting average, a .480 on-base percentage and a .452 slugging average. In the squad’s most recent game, a 2-1 loss to Willamette, he went two-for-three with the Pio’s only run-scoring hit. On the mound, Drake Gilliland ’17 has maintained a 3.82 earned run average in 30.2 innings with 7.34 strikeouts per game.
Softball, on the other hand, has undergone a resurgence in NWC play. After dropping both of their games against the Eastern Oregon, splitting their set versus College of Idaho and going 1-3 against Linfield, the Pios went on a tear. They rattled off wins against Puget Sound, Willamette, and Pacific (Oregon). Over this period of games, the team has hit for a .324 batting average, surrendered only 46 runs and stolen 17 bases. The squad is now 11-13(the best record the team has had in the seven year tenure of Head Coach Shawna Cyrus), which has given them a slim chance of making the NWC playoffs, provided that the Pios sweep their four games against George Fox this weekend, and Willamette and Pacific Lutheran lose at least one game each.
Softball’s revival owes much to strong performances of players like Paige Salavea ’18, who has put up a .400/.449/.512 stat line, and Emily Drevdahl ’19, who has worked her way towards a .352/.377/.574 stat line. The pitching has also taken a step up since Spring Break, with Kalin Rooney ’17 earning a 2.79 ERA while averaging 3 strikeouts per game and Kaili-Ann Akimseu ’19 putting up a 3.45 ERA while averaging 6.33 strikeouts per game.
“Our pitchers are really holding us in games right now, allowing us to be confident in our offense, and we’ve just been explosive. We’re just out having a great time and not putting much pressure on ourselves to be perfect,” said Cyrus, in an interview with LCPioneers.com.
While both Baseball and Softball have had their ups and downs, the teams are looking forward to their final series of the season. Baseball will have their last series of three games this weekend, playing at home against Pacific Lutheran at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 12 p.m. on Sunday. Meanwhile, Softball has two doubleheaders left in the regular season, one at home on Saturday and one on the road on Sunday against George Fox (with games at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on both days). Should they qualify for the playoffs, the tournament will start on Friday, April 22.