Syracuse softball blanked in series opener
SU gets blanked in series opener
Pitcher Keely Rochard threw a no-hitter Friday against Syracuse as the visiting Virginia Tech Hokies cruised to an 8-0 victory.
Rochard recorded 16 strikeouts to help her momentarily take the national lead in that stat category. Rochard faced one more hitter than the minimum through 7 scoreless innings. She recorded 16 of 22 first-pitch strikes and attacked the SU hitters early in the count.
The game had no score through the first two innings as both teams struggled to make contact. Then, in the top of the 3rd frame, the Hokies broke a scoreless tie as Grace Chavez hooked a one-out double down the left-field line and plated the game’s first run. The Hokies added to their lead later in the inning as Kelsey Bennett hit a fly-ball double to right field, making the game 2-0.
Aside from falling behind early, the Orange did not help themselves out, committing a season-high five errors, four of which contributed to runs for Virginia Tech. Middle infielder’s Neli Casares-Maher and Gabby Teran struggled to make the routine plays, helping to plate runs for the visitors. The wind proved to be a costly factor for the Orange as well, as sure-handed center fielder Toni Martin dropped a towering fly ball later in the game.
On the offensive side for the Orange, the game plan was to attack the first strike as Rochard looked to pound the strike zone early and often.
“We found the pitches we were looking for but we also squandered some opportunities to make our hacks on the right pitches,” said coach Shannon Doepking after the game. “Keely Rochard is one of, if not the best pitcher in the country, for a reason. All her tosses are made with a purpose, and we looked when we should have swung, and swung when we were not supposed to.”
Doepking relayed her words of encouragement to tell her player’s throughout the game:
“We as a coaching staff wanted our players to make decisive swings early in counts, because we felt it gave us the best opportunity for success.”
Moving on to tomorrow’s doubleheader and the rest of the series, Syracuse must refocus and flush out the negatives from today.
“We understand the adjustments needed to make. Anyone who watched the sloppy defensive plays knows that is not the brand of Softball we want to play here,” Doepking said.
Virginia Tech showed the full hand of their ace, and Syracuse was unable to answer. Rochard did her best to silence the Syracuse bats as the Hokies snapped a 5-game losing streak. Understanding that Rochard will likely make an appearance again during the series, Syracuse should be better prepared to face her the second time.
Syracuse resumes play Saturday against the Hokies for a twin-bill, looking to bounce back and take command of the weekend series.