After a promising start to the season, the Golden Rams softball team is in a nasty funk. Perhaps even worse is the team’s start in PSAC competition, where they have not fared well thus far. Much like a year ago, the Golden Rams were in good shape prior to the start of league play. In 2005, WCU began the season at 10-5 as they stared in the face of a tough PSAC schedule. The team lost its first six against division teams in ’05 and finished with a 4-20 PSAC East record. Now, in 2006, the Golden Rams are seemingly back on that same road yet again, but still with plenty of time for a detour.
One mitigating factor to the sluggish start is the team’s lack of offense. Simply put, the team isn’t scoring enough – a problem that was hardly an issue when the Golden Rams were winning almost with ease. In their first eight games against PSAC teams, the Golden Rams have scored no more than three runs in a contest. That total came once on March 31 when WCU recorded its only win in league play over Millersville. The other seven contests – all losses – have resulted in final scores of 2-0 (Millersville), 9-0 and 2-1 (East Stroudsburg), 8-0 and 9-1 (Bloomsburg) and 2-0 and 5-1 (Shippensburg). The production just isn’t there.
In non-league match ups, the Golden Rams have been extremely effective with the bat. WCU has an impressive record of 15-7 outside of its division, and scoring runs were not hard to come by in most of those games. The Golden Rams averaged a respectable 5.2 runs per contest in those 15 wins. Whether it’s the unfamiliarity of playing those teams that has garnered such potent offensive numbers, or the strength of their own division that has put the girls in a swinging slump, the Golden Rams have at least shown that they can be a productive bunch at the plate. However, such inconsistency has set the entire team in reverse as the division race heats up.
The Golden Rams’ attitude this year is simple: stay relaxed and have fun. Unfortunately, while they’ve been having fun winning for most of the season, only two players have been dependable and largely productive at the plate. Jaime McComb and Katie Kreider are having great seasons with the bats, while the rest of the team has followed a few strides behind. The most telling statistic in determining an efficient offensive player is on base percentage. McComb (.400) and Kreider (.389) lead the team in that category. Tara Colantuono (.315) is best for third on the Golden Rams. Obviously, the disparity is hard to ignore. Colantuono’s percentage is respectable, but it’s nowhere close to that of McComb and Kreider. It’s difficult to score runs when – for the most part – only two players are consistently getting on base.
The bats have been quiet as of late, but the pitching has been steady most of the season. Senior Adina DeHainaut has a miniscule 1.37 ERA, 11 wins and 93 strikeouts. Freshman Shannon Padula has a 2.37 ERA and nine wins. The pitching has kept the Golden Rams in most contests this season. If the offense isn’t scoring, though, a stellar outing usually goes to waste. That is a problem the Golden Rams have frequently dealt with as of late.
The Golden Rams offense must provide more run support for DeHainaut and Padula if they hope to make a run for a spot in the PSAC playoffs. There is still time for the Golden Rams to get hot at the plate, but at 1-7 in the division, a lot of work needs to be done.