After numerous trips to warmer locales in February and March, a grueling Big East schedule that included trips to Chicago and Providence, and a few picture-perfect weather days in South Orange, the softball team will be playing its final series of the regular season in Omaha, Nebraska against Creighton over the weekend.
The team wrapped up a three-game series against Georgetown, taking two of three games from the Hoyas. The series was also special because it was the last one at home for the team’s six seniors: Destini Peck, Madison Strunk, Briana Wallace, Chrisa Head, Ragen Reddick and Emily Supercynski.
While each senior has left her mark on the program, it is the eye-popping numbers of the players under them that have spurred the Pirates this season and given fans and coaches hope heading into next campaign. The consistent pitching of Reganne Camp will return next year, which is a welcome sight for Pirate fans, but how much offensive production is returning next year is equally important. The extra-base hit production of Janae Barracato, Hailey Arteaga, Jaden Tate, Baylee Allender, and Darby Pandolfo has been a major catalyst for the Pirates this year.
Barracato made history on April 27 when she hit her 17th double of the season, breaking the single-season program record. Barracato then added two more doubles in the second game of the doubleheader and an additional one in the next game to bring her total to a whopping 20 on the season. Barracato also has two home runs and two triples this spring.
Hailey Arteaga also has 17 doubles of her own including two in the April 28 win over Georgetown. Arteaga has six home runs, two of which came last weekend against the Hoyas, and a staggering .404 batting average, a testament to her ability to get on base as well as hit for power.
Joining Barracato and Arteaga in the extra-base hit parade are Allender, Pandolfo, and Tate. Allender has nine home runs so far on the season and five doubles. Pandolfo has four home runs and nine doubles. Jaden Tate has four triples and one extremely crucial home run; a walk-off to clinch a series win against Villanova in March.
The extra-base hit total of Seton Hall has led the Pirates to a 22-23 record, which on the surface looks subpar, but is misleading because the team has a chance at making the Big East tournament. The Pirates currently sit at fifth in the Big East with an 8-8 conference record, one game behind Providence which is 9-8. If the Pirates sweep their series against Creighton and Georgetown beats Providence in their series, the Pirates will move into fourth and qualify for the Big East Tournament.
However, whether or not the Pirates achieve this postseason berth is dependent on the continued extra-base production of their star hitters. If Seton Hall’s bats stay hot and provide enough run support for the starting pitchers down the stretch, it will be hard for it to fall short of a Big East Tournament berth in 2019.
Matthew Collins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Matt98533108.