Clutch hitting boosts Syracuse to a 4-0 victory over Duke

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Senior Alicia Hansen tossed her ponytail behind her head as “Astronaut Kid” by NBA Youngboy boomed through the loud speaker. She wasn’t nervous — she’d been situations like this too many times to allow nervousness affect her swing. Even as the Orange had yet to record a hit through the first 4.2 innings, the senior remained confident that she was the one who’d break the no-hitter. “I knew that I was going to get a hit,” Hansen said. “There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to hit the ball hard somewhere.”She crushed a two-out single past the Duke second baseman and into right field. Assistant coach Vanessa Shippy slapped her helmet as the tie-breaking runner strolled into second base.Syracuse (18-20, 7-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) was no-hit through the first four innings by Duke (21-23, 8-8 ACC). But after the third inning, head coach Shannon Doepking and the coaching staff adjusted to Duke pitcher Peyton St. George’s sinking changeup. SU batters stood farther back in the box and choked up further on the bat. This helped SU erupt for six hits in the fifth and sixth inning, all coming with two outs, in the 4-0 victory.“We didn’t have to hit the change-up as much,” Doepking said. “We got some pitches that we could handle a little bit more.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThrough the first three innings, Syracuse couldn’t decipher St. George. When the Orange expected an off-speed pitch, she tossed a fast ball. When they waited on the changeup, she would beat them with a faster pitch up high. So Doepking decided to counter by placing SU further back in the batter’s box.  St. George was forced to throw faster pitches up higher — a low breaking ball might not make the strike zone. This gave Syracuse a consistent stream of balls elevated in the strike zone. “Once we moved to the back of the box, she was struggling with her changeup,” Hansen said. “You could also see her pitches a lot better from the back of the box.”One batter after the first Orange hit of the game, freshman Alexis Kaiser had an opportunity to break the scoreless tie. As she stepped to the plate, Kaiser glanced down at her feet in the middle of the batter’s box. She immediately remembered the adjustments that Doepking had preached only one inning earlier: stand back in the box and choke up on the bat. Kaiser took two steps towards the catcher and raised her hands higher onto the black grip of the bat. After waiting through five pitches, Kaiser smacked the sixth pitch into right field. Holmgren scampered home and just touched the plate just before Duke catcher Jazmine Moreno could tag her out. “Getting hits in those clutch situations, that’s what you live for,” Kaiser said. One inning later, Hansen had another opportunity for a clutch hit. Two batters after St. George was relieved for sophomore Amelia Wiercioch, the Orange had a two run lead with Holmgren and sophomore Gabby Teran on second and third. Hansen smashed a double just inside the left field foul line. Teran and Holmgren sprinted home, providing the Orange with a four-run lead, one it would never lose. Hansen has routinely provided SU with game-changing hits. On March 30 against Notre Dame, she doubled home the game-tying RBI double and singled home another runner. The next day, she tripled home three runs to extend the Syracuse lead to four. Facing Duke, the senior once again had two vital hits to push Syracuse to victory. “I actually enjoy those pressure situations a lot more than they’re being no one on and no one out at the beginning of the game,” Hansen said. “Those pressure situations kind of motivate me.” Comments Published on April 12, 2019 at 5:58 pm Contact Adam: [email protected] | @_adamhillmanlast_img

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