Defensive woes

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Every coach and athlete has heard or said the adage: “The best defense is a good offense.” Outscoring your opponent will always give your team a very high chance of winning. 

This is not always possible, however, since sports like baseball always allow for both sides to have a chance to score. No matter how good a team’s offense is, at some point it must play defense. The players must earn the chance to bat again since there is no clock to limit their opponents.

Pitching is one of the most important defensive elements in baseball. Pitchers must work together with fielders in order to stop the opponents and give their team the chance to bat again.

This season, the Crusaders have struggled heavily on both of these two fronts. So far, the Crusaders are 11-19, and 2-7 in conference play, sitting in sixth place in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC). The Crusaders have nine games left, all of them against conference opponents. None of their games are bigger than their final series against seventh place Schreiner University.

A spot in the SCAC tournament is on the line for the Crusaders in the final stretch of the season, and only the top six teams make it in. Making the conference tournament will be hard enough, dueling with Schreiner for the last spot, but doing well in the tournament will be impossible unless the Crusaders can figure out a way to improve their pitching and defense.

While the Crusader offense has struggled at times this season, it is nowhere near as troubled as their defense.  In 30 games this season, the Crusaders have allowed eight or more hits 22 times, and surrendered six or more runs 18 times. The Crusaders have also committed errors in 24 out of their 30 games, and 17 of those have been multi-error games.

The Crusaders’ woes have landed them fifth in the conference in hits, total runs allowed, first in errors, and sixth in fielding percentage. Unless they find a way to clean up their game defensively, and shut opponents down from the mound it is going to be a very long rest of the season and a very short tournament. 

The good news is that the current roster has only seven seniors and 21 freshmen and sophomores. The Crusaders have the potential to be quite good in the next couple of years. Two years of learning, practice and experience, and the Crusaders may well be a force to deal with by 2019.

The time may come when the Crusaders will shine, but it will not come if their current predicament continues. Teams can win purely off of pitching and defense, and as long as they can score once, that can be enough. There is hope for the future, but improvement must start now.

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