by Ed McCarnes

Marshall softball opened its season expecting to contend for regular season and post-season championships. But unexpected obstacles infected the goal. A spring of intermixed surges and shortfalls followed and The Herd finished fifth in both season and post-season play.

At multiple levels sizzling success and thought troubling tumbles flashed through the season spectrum. Marshall generated winning streaks of 3, 3, 3, 5, 2, 2, 2, 4, 2, and 2. Successive back steps numbered 6, 2, 2, 6, and 3. Intermingled with these numbers were alternating wins and losses.

When and where analyses further illuminate season positives and negatives.

Against the season The Herd was 13-8 at home, 9-7 at neutral sites, and 8-11 away. Versus C-USA the numbers closed 8-4 at home, 1-1 on neutral fields, and 5-7 as a visiting team.

Conference play is conducted in sets of three games. Marshall was 5-3 in first and third games, and 3-5 in second contests.

Experience impacted performance. Seniors and Juniors batted .353 against the schedule and .360 against the conference. For Sophomores the numbers were .303 season and .278 conference. First year players completed the year at .250 but stepped down to .231 in league play.

The numbers gain further clarity with a focus on rankings.

Twelve C-USA schools field softball teams. For analysis divide the 12 into leaders (ranks 1-4), mid-packs (5-8), and trailers (9-12). The numbers in parentheses indicate the ranks in statistical categories.

* Leaders:

Offense – stolen bases (1), hits (2), triples (2), and runs (4)

Pitching – strikeouts (3)

* Mid-Pack:

Offense – Home Runs (6)

Pitching – ERA, runs allowed, and hits allowed (5); walks allowed (6)

* Trailers:

Offense – doubles (9)

Defense – fielding percentage (10), errors committed (3)

The Herd’s winning strategies and losing techniques encompass a delta of opponent dominance and self-destruction.

Personal observation, electronic media viewing, and print media report reviews provide a strategy for analysis.

The most frequent winning strategy was timely hitting and command pitching (18 times). Others included timely hitting and command relief pitching (4 times), comprehensive hitting (4), comprehensive hitting and command pitching (3), and comprehensive late hitting and command relief pitching (1).

Tab ineffective pitching with seven losses, and a combination of ineffective pitching and sparse hitting with seven additional defeats. Other causes: lack of hitting (2); lack of hitting and late home runs (4); hitting, pitching, and defense (2); relief pitching (2); lack of hitting and defense (1); pitching and defense (1).

Three Seniors were cornerstones in the success achieved. Replacements must be found for voids in left field, in right field, and at third base. A void in pitching staff depth also needs attention.

The now operative off-season hibernation decreases to a light summer slumber stage with the start of the fall semester. That slumber ends with the commencement of fall ball practice. With the roster’s youth profile the historic echoes from the borough of Brooklyn come to mind. “Wait ‘til next year.”