The what-ifs of Wildcat baseball
When looking back on the season for the Linfield baseball team, I was left with a bunch of what-ifs, wondering why it didn’t do as well as expected with the team that it had this year. Was it the coaching? Or, was it the attitude of the players?
The ‘Cats were ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation this year. This, however, did not last, and now the baseball team is no longer in the top 25 in the Division-III rankings. As I poured over the games I had watched, I tried to understand why they were unable to be the dominating team the polls had predicted they would be.
At the end of last season, the Wildcats had a team batting average of .315 with 44 games under their belt. This year, however, after 34 games, their team batting average was .285. Not only was team batting average lower, but its runs scored average was also lower. In 2011, their average runs per game was 6.95, but in 2012, this statistic dropped to 6.24. In 2011, the Wildcats never lost a best of three series, while in 2012, the ‘Cats lost the best of three series against Pacific University, George Fox University and Whitworth University.
Another scoring statistic that haunted the team was that if it was trailing this year beyond the fourth inning, it only won three of those games. So, before I blame it all on their batting, the pitching staff must bear some of the fault if the hitters averaged six runs a game. Opponents’ batting average against the pitching staff was .232 in 2012, while in 2011 it was .241.
The ERA of the Wildcat pitchers was 2.92 in 2012 and 2.81 in 2011. Although the pitchers’ ERA was 2.92, the defense in the field behind them faltered this year. The average runs per game against Linfield in 2012 was 3.76. In 2011, it was 3.63. Due to errors, Linfield, on average, gave up one more run a game in both years.
When breaking down the averages of the season, it’s hard to understand what went wrong for the Wildcats. They played similarly to 2011, but instead of taking first in the NWC with 20 wins and 4 losses, they ended in fifth place with 15 wins and nine losses.
The difference this year was that the ‘Cats didn’t score in games where they needed to score. Due to errors, pitching stayed in innings longer then they should have, and when they had to string hits together to score runs, they failed to do so. It wasn’t that they lacked talent or that the coaches ruined the games for them, instead, it was just unfortunate circumstances, such as great pitching and poor hitting or great hitting combined with poor pitching and fielding against teams they had to beat.
Perhaps the most shocking statistic from the two years was not what the team did, but the fan turnout. In 2011, total home attendance was 2,435 averaging 202 people a game. In 2012, however, total home attendance dropped to an average of 97 people a game.
So, perhaps for success the ‘Cats just need a little more fan support to get them through next year.
Carson Crepeaux/Staff writer
Carson Crepeaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.