In 2016, the Seton Hall baseball team was nationally known for stealing bases. As the No. 1 team in the country in that category, the Pirates made their mark on the NCAA.
Stealing bases is a unique advantage to have over opposing teams. Singles become doubles, and a walk could turn into a runner in scoring position without even touching the ball at the plate.
That being said, whether Seton Hall could keep this advantage for the 2017 season is a question they have faced.
Entering Wednesday, March 29, the Seton Hall baseball team has succeeded in 23 of 36 stolen base attempts. A nearly 64 percent success rate is not a stat to be ashamed of, however last season’s 84 percent success rate on 217 triesblew teams out of the water.
Much of last year’s success on the base paths can be accredited to the national leader in stolen bases, and Seton Hall’s senior male athlete of the year, Derek Jenkins. His 53 total stolen bases was the highest in the Big East for the third straight year, gained national recognition and led him to score a team-high 42 runs. Filling his shoes is no easy task.
So far this season, Ryan Ramiz leads the team in stolen bases, converting on six of seven attempts. Last year, Ramiz went 15-20, which was the fifth highest in attempts and steals for the Pirates.
The only player who had more that and has returned for the 2017 season is Joe Poduslenko, who is currently three for five in stolen bases this year after going 16-17 last year.
These two will have to carry a lot of the burden on the base paths if the Pirates want to compete with the numbers they put up last season.
However, the numbers have not even compared thus far. Seton Hall is on pace to finish with 58 stolen bases on less than 91 attempts.
That being said, stolen bases are not the only key to success and winning.
The 2016 National Champion, Coastal Carolina, had 112 stolen bases on the season. The team it defeated in the championship, Arizona, had 77. Nonetheless, it is still an advantage, and an advantage it appears Seton Hall will need to find an alternative to in order to reach the Big East Tournament again.
The best way to get runners in scoring position as fast as possible without stealing is of course an extra base hit. Seton Hall has momentum in this regard. The team has 35 doubles on the season, which has them on pace to end the with 88, 10 higher than last year’s total.
In addition, an area in which Seton Hall struggled last season was home runs, with only 11. Now a third of the way through the year, the Pirates have five home runs. Not an extraordinary number, but still an improvement that Seton Hall can work on with Mikael-Ali Mogues and Poduslenko returning, and new talents such as Al Molina joining them.
Seton Hall has a long road ahead as it prepares for conference play. The Pirates currently stand in fourth place, where they were predicted to be at in the preseason poll.
Keith Egan is a visual and sound media and journalism major from Tinton Falls, N.J. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Keith_egan10.