Two more games today at the Chick-Fil-A Invite in Alabama went about the same as yesterday, except UB didn't get to extra innings in the more offensive of the two, falling 6-5 after ceding a late rally to North Florida, and 11-0 with precious little offense to Troy.
All 11 Troy runs and the critical three in the top of the seventh for North Florida came with two outs and were helped around the diamond by seven errors on the day following six in yesterday's pair of games.
In the North Florida loss, UB for the second straight game enjoyed a multiple-run lead headed into the final inning, and gave up a crooked number despite getting two quick outs. Needing a run in the last of the seventh, Savanna Norcio made it to second, but senior Karly Nevez flied out to end the game.
Charlotte Miller got the start and pitched all but the last out for the Bulls, allowed 10 runners to reach base and for UB's five errors ceded only one unearned run. From the batter's box, Alexis Curtiss was 2-3 with a run and an RBI, while transfer Lauren Gambone also had two hits, a run, and three RBI.
The second game, a mercy rule-shortened drubbing against Troy, the tournament hosts, was another in which the Bulls simply could not generate any offense. Meanwhile, of the Trojans' 11 runs, only 3 were earned and all came with two outs, in a four-run spurt in the first and a seven-spot in the third. Troy was also able to do all that with just 15 baserunners, seven of whom reached on walks.
It's only been four games, so there's plenty time for improvement, but pitching has to be a serious concern. Bobbi Langlois started the game and gave up the first four runs. After two more (one on an error that would have ended the frame) and loading the bases again, she was pulled for Madison Vaught in the third, who walked in one run and then ceded a grand slam.
From then, whatever the mercy rule is in this tourney, it was only a matter of time til the game was official after five. UB only had five baserunners in the game, three in the first two innings, though they only struck out thrice.
The hopeful sports fan in me hopes that the errors are a product of a young lineup still gelling, and perhaps a product of limited outdoor practice time through the winter, but that's purely speculation on my part. More pure speculation: are the errors affecting the young pitchers' composure? With a cleaner defensive game, UB has two relatively comfortable wins, a close loss with little offense, and a game in which they ran into a dominant pitcher.
Coach Peel has made no bones about the fact that she expects her freshmen to step right in and play, not sit for a year before contributing. The underclass-heavy lineup is struggling now, but maybe that attitude brings a steep, but quick, learning curve.
The team wraps up the tournament with a single game tomorrow against Florida A&M. The Rattlers don't update their website, so I don't know how they've done other than a tournament-opening 16-4 loss to Troy. They'll play Buffalo at 10:30 AM.