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SU softball turns to new players to improve last season’s losing record

first_img Published on February 4, 2020 at 10:17 pm aekaylor@syr.edu | @cincinnallie Facebook Twitter Google+ After a disappointing 2019 season, Syracuse hopes an influx of new players will key a turnaround from 21-32. If fall ball was any indicator, it may be right.When the Orange take the field against California on Feb. 7, five of their 17 players will be freshmen. Head coach Shannon Doepking lauded Kaia Oliver, Jude Padilla, Rebecca Clyde, Catie Dobbs and Mia Cunnings as “competitive” players for SU heading into the 2020 season-opener.“I think it’s a competitiveness that we lacked last year,” Doepking said. “And I think it’s something that you’re going to get to see really, really quickly.”The new players’ potential competitiveness showed last fall, when SU played five exhibition games and won four of them. The Orange lost their first game to Colgate but outscored their next four opponents by nearly 50 runs.Oliver pitched in three of the five games, starting in two of them. In her first start, the Ridgefield, Washington native pitched eight-plus innings, allowing one run through the first eight.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“That was just a fuel to the fire,” Oliver said.Padilla, an infielder and catcher, said she learned a lot from junior Gabby Teran this offseason. Teran led the Orange in hits and runs and was one of the most consistent players on the team in 2019. She emerged as a veteran presence and mentor to the large class of new players, helping them adjust to college life, Padilla said.Padilla played third base, first base and catcher in high school, meaning Doepking can use her in multiple situations, especially if there is an injury. Syracuse struggled with depth last season, and it was a problem when several players were forced out of position, Doepking said.“She really helped me in softball on and off the field with my mentality and my attitude towards the game,” Padilla said.In 2019, now-senior Alexa Romero won 13 of SU’s 21 games, pitching in 44.7% of the team’s total innings. Behind her in innings was Sophie Dandola, who’s since left the team.Also shining for SU during the fall was Padilla, who had several RBIs throughout the week and a two-run home run against Herkimer.One of the biggest question marks on the Orange roster coming into 2020 was a replacement for Alicia Hansen, who graduated last spring. She spent time bouncing around infield positions and led the Orange in batting average. With an influx of versatile players, it’s easy to have someone that can play in the gaps that she used to fill.Cunnings and Clyde, other freshmen, are two more examples of the flexibility the team needs, Doepking said. They are both middle infielders with experience on the corners and can play wherever they are called. The Orange also brought in three transfers — one from a junior college. Two of whom play infield; the other is an outfielder.“One thing we wanted to do with this program was add depth and with that, add kids that are versatile enough to play a lot of positions,” Doepking said. “So we went out and found three shortstops.” Commentslast_img

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