Softball’s offense showing capability mixed with inconsistency

The Seton Hall softball team began its season in the Lone Star State – home to six of its players – beginning in San Antonio, Texas at the UTSA Softball Classic from Feb. 9 to 10, before traveling to the Sam Houston State tournament in Huntsville, Texas the following weekend. The Pirates battled to a 4-2 record during the opening six games, but dropped the final two games on Feb. 17 to fall to 4-4.

Though the season is still young, the statistics from those first eight games have shown that it has been feast or famine for Pirates hitters.When they have found success, it has been behind a powerful hitting core and strong starting pitching.

Photo via SHU Athletics

Outfielders Hailey Arteaga and Janae Barracato, third basemen Alexis Walkden and catcher Payton Beaver have accounted for 17 of the team’s 25 RBIs through eight games. The team’s five home runs are split between them and Walkden has reached base at least once in every game.

The quartet also has a combined batting average of .371 and have a collective on-base percentage of .452, meaning any one of them has nearly a 50 percent chance of reaching first base or farther in any given plate appearance. By comparison, the Pirates as a whole have been batting .277, which is 10 points lower than what their opponents are batting thus far.

The Pirates are not getting on base solely by swinging the bat either. Beaver, despite being tied for fourth on the team in batting average at .333, leads the team with a .481 on-base percentage. She has accomplished this feat by drawing six walks through eight games. This is one area where the Pirates have been ahead of their opposition, as they have drawn 21 walks so far, while only giving up 15 on the other end.

But the Pirates’ runs have come in chunks this season. The Hall has racked up nine individual multi-run innings on the offensive end, highlighted by a seven-run sixth inning that powered the team over Sam Houston State, 10-6, on Feb. 16 in Huntsville, Texas. At least two of Arteaga, Barracato, Walkden and Beaver either scored or knocked runs in during all nine of those innings, and all four of them have taken the role as the inning’s catalyst at least once.

Despite the affinity for big innings, Seton Hall has struggled at times to get going at the plate. The Pirates have scored 10 runs in a game twice already, but have been held to three or fewer runs in the other six. They have also been shut out by No. 4 Washington and no-hit by Northern Colorado.

Seton Hall’s lineup is beginning to look like a streaky, but capable group. If the early season has been any indication, the Pirates have shown the ability to bounce back with strong hitting after games where the bats have been shut down.

The Pirates face a big turnaround as they travel to Greensboro, N.C. this week, looking to erase the sour taste from a 10-run loss to No. 4 Washington, where the hitting was silenced by dominant pitching. It is inevitable for teams to have down games, but how the Pirates come out this weekend and how their core of hitters perform will go a long way in determining the results in what are five crucial non-conference games.

Kyle Beck can be reached at kyle.beck1@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @notkylebeck.