Hey ’Cats. Remember last spring when Mac was so consistently rainy and wet that the softball team spent most of its “home games” at other neutral locations? Back then it was a reassuring thing to know that our team could win on the road, but I still bemoaned the lack of home games.
This year, I’d take the neutral games in a heartbeat. In fact, I think I’d go so far as to say both the softball and baseball programs would be better off spending the postseason on the road come May. Don’t get me wrong, both programs boast quality teams. But Catball has surrendered all three of its season losses at home and the baseball squad has dropped as many at home (5) as they have on the road.
The baseball team was overrated in the preseason. I think that’s clear by now. This club started the year at No. 2 in the nation and proceeded to go 20-10 through the first 30 games; not exactly a stellar winning percentage. The ’Cats have free-fallen 19 spots to No. 21 and left their postseason hopes muddled.
At second place in the Northwest Conference with nine games remaining, a conference title and automatic postseason berth is still possible. But only five of those games come against conference foes and none against top-ranked Pacific.
Winning out will help the team’s case for a regional playoff berth, as will the fact that they’ve been selected to host one of the Division-III regional sites for the fourth time in the past five years. But unless they can come on strong in the end of the season, I really don’t know that being home is a good thing. It would beat being left out and having to watch other teams play at Roy Helser field, though.
At the risk of igniting a firestorm around the Catball loyal, I’m also worried about three puzzling home losses and what it means for this team’s postseason odds. Yes, they are the top-ranked team in the nation; yes, they are a solid club from top to bottom; yes, every team loses games.
I’m just surprised and a bit concerned that the odds-on favorite to bag the national title has lost three home contests. If the comforts of home don’t bring in the wins, road games against the nation’s elite could be potentially dangerous.
On the other hand, I hear Willamette has a fantastic pitcher, and PLU has shown they’re worthy of an at-large bid for the D-III regional playoffs, so maybe I’m overreacting. Or maybe its a good thing the school’s bid to host a regional site was denied. We’ll see. Go ’Cats.
Chris Forrer/Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at email@example.com.