Young team struggles in conference play

Robert George

The Georgia Southern softball team is in the midst of an 8-25 season. They sit at the bottom of the Sun Belt with a 1-11 conference record. A combination of youth, tough competition and costly mistakes has downed the Eagles throughout the season.

This is a very young team. There are only four juniors and seniors who start on a regular basis for the Eagles. The rest of the players are underclassmen that are still improving as the season progresses.

Senior Brooke Red anchors a pitching staff that includes another senior and two freshmen. Breanna McLendon, Lexi Allen and Kaitlyn Johnson are the only seniors who see regular time in the field. With so many underclassmen playing, there are bound to be mistakes, but the experience they are getting this season will be crucial to their success going forward.

The Eagles have lost nine games by less than two runs this season. They are also 1-3 in extra inning games. Many times, these games are decided by just a few plays. And more often than not, the Eagles have not made the plays they’ve needed to close out games.

Another factor has been a tough schedule and a more talented conference. The Eagles have faced off against some stiff competition in their non-conference schedule, having played games against Florida State, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia.

They went 1-5 against these elite teams but did pick up a big win against Texas. The Eagles played a complete game against the Longhorns, using solid defense, timely hitting and a stellar pitching performance to take a 3-1 win. The experience of playing against top-notch talent will help the young team get better.

The Eagles have struggled in conference play so far. They finished their last season in the Southern Conference with a conference championship to go with a 15-6 record. However, the Sun Belt is a tougher conference, and the Eagles are still adjusting to the step up in competition.

But, at the end of the day, the players still have to make the plays, and the Eagles haven’t been able to do that consistently enough this season. The Eagles have committed 62 errors on defense, which is the most in the Sun Belt. They also have the lowest team batting average in the conference, hitting just .254 on the season. The team pitching also ranks near the bottom of the conference in with a 5.37 ERA.

If the Eagles could solve some of these problems, the record will work itself out. With so many underclassmen getting playing time this year, it’s fair to believe that these issues can be fixed. And there are still a lot of games left this season to turn it around.

The Eagles will return to action next weekend when they take on Appalachian State.