Syracuse’s pitching depth tested in nonconference play

first_imgLast season, Syracuse’s ace Alexa Romero pitched almost half of the team’s 339 innings (169.2). The year prior, she pitched 145.1 innings, also a significant majority of the team’s playing time. Now, with the addition of sophomore transfer Sophie Dandola, Romero will get a break.“I think our innings will still be pretty high up, and our pitch counts will still be high,” Romero said before the season. “I’m so excited. It’s kind of nice to have more of a pitching staff this year than last year.”The Orange (2-6) envision a deeper pitching staff to keep the opposing batters guessing and their arms rested for conference play, head coach Shannon Doepking said. So far, Dandola (19.1 innings) has occupied the circle more than Romero (13.1), who has struggled with her control. Now a junior, Romero knows having a more complete pitching staff is key to making a run through the ACC, she said. After leading the nation last year in strikeouts per seven innings (10.9), Romero sees Dandola, a top-25 finalist for the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Freshman of the Year, as an equal counterpart in the rotation.“(Depth is) very valuable,” Romero said. “It helps her and it helps me not have our arms fall off.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAnna Henderson | Digital Design EditorRomero, a left-handed rise-ball pitcher, said her style “meshes together” with Dandola, a righty, drop-baller. Dandola typically yields more grounders while Romero punches out more batters.Dandola said pitching the two in the same game or splitting a double-header could be effective because batters have to adjust to the difference in “eye level.” Through the team’s first eight games, Dandola has the best ERA (2.17) on the staff.In both of Syracuse’s wins, its starting pitcher played the whole game. Against Grand Canyon on Feb. 9, Romero pitched all eight innings, allowing two runs. In the Orange’s 11-1 rout of Penn State, Dandola allowed one run in five innings.But Romero hasn’t been consistent this season — she’s allowed eight earned runs in four appearances, walking 11 batters. Romero exited last Friday’s game against then-No. 24 Indiana after 1.1 innings of work and appeared to have discomfort in her throwing hand.“That, ultimately, is what’s going to be the difference between last year and this year,” Doepking said about the team’s pitching rotation. “Can we manage it and get the best two innings, three innings, four innings, whatever it may be that day, so that by the time we get to ACC, we still have fresh arms?”Miranda Hearn, SU’s third option, has also struggled. In 8.2 innings this year, she’s allowed seven earned runs and has walked nine. Romero helped the sophomore tweak her curveball in the offseason while the rotation works together to improve as a whole, Hearn said.Doepking said both Dandola and Romero will pitch heavy innings. Along with Hearn, Peyton Schnackenberg and Logan Paul are in relief and will help SU get through its grueling 53-game season.“Everybody knows we have great pitching,” Doepking said. “And I think we’re deep this year on the mound. Not just (Romero), but we have five good arms we can go to.” Comments Published on February 19, 2019 at 10:14 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmermancenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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