The ETSU softball team started off the season at Kennesaw State University in Georgia for the Kick-off Classic.
The Bucs participated in a double-header against Murray State University and Kennesaw State University, unable to come up with a win against either team. The Bucs finished with a loss of 5-0 against Murray State and 4-2 loss against Kennesaw State.
The Bucs were in scoring position seven times against Murray State, with the last hitter coming up to bat, but the team was unable to come up with a clutch hit that would have likely changed the outcome of both games. In the two games, the Bucs left a combined 19 players on base over the course of the games.
Senior Jennine Duncan (Jonesborough, Tenn.) led the team on offense against Murray State, going two-for-three at the plate, but it wasn’t enough to get the Bucs a win. At the end of the Kennesaw game, the Bucs had seven hits, and Kennesaw had only eight. The difference was that Kennesaw was able to produce when it was needed.
“We had first game jitters,” Duncan said. “It was the first time we had been outside in a week due to the weather.”
Duncan said the team is working a lot in the cage and situational hitting in order to prepare for the upcoming games, because the main issue in the Kick-off Classic was that the Bucs couldn’t get hits together despite bases being loaded and few outs.
It wasn’t only the hitters left on base that could have changed the game, but the Bucs also walked 16 hitters from the pitch combined in the two ball games.
Pitching had good moments, according to coach Brad Irwin, where the Bucs were hitting spots and controlling the ball, but it wasn’t done enough to be effective.
“We saw the things we need to work on last weekend, and now we move on to the coming weekend,” Irwin said.
The main focus during the few days of practice this week is going to be on improvement and learning from the mistakes made in the Kick-off Classic.
Another senior, Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.), also went two-for-three at the plate like Duncan, but against Kennesaw.
“I found the entire weekend an encouragement,” Cowart said. “We had a lot of depth in our bullpen, and were able to switch talented pitchers.”
Cowart said that in all her years at ETSU, the team has never been able to switch pitchers like they did over the weekend, and it’s going to add a new element to their game.
The pitchers have been prepping all week in terms of their stamina and hitting their marks so as to be even more beneficial.
The Bucs will travel to Nashville on Feb. 19 for the Tiger Classic, where they will play five games over the course of three days, hopefully taking advantage of the runners on base, holding strong on the pitching game and coming back to Johnson City with a few wins for the 2016 season.