Softball

Syracuse softball hitters struggle to hit screwball in 3-2 loss to Colgate

Zach Barlow | Asst. Photo Editor

Andrea Bombace looks toward Colgate's catcher. Syracuse's hitters struggled to handle Brigit Ieuter's screwball throughout the second game of a doubleheader.

With the tying run on second base in the final inning, Alyssa Dewes popped out to first. Then Sammy Fernandez grounded out to pitcher Brigit Ieuter to end Syracuse’s final scoring threat.

Again the Orange had a chance. Again the Orange couldn’t convert.

“We just hit weak ground balls because we couldn’t adjust to the inside pitch,” said SU shortstop Corinne Ozanne, who belted a three-run home run in game 1 but went hitless in game 2.

Ieuter, Colgate’s (8-22, 3-5 Patriot) starting pitcher, commanded her screwball to keep the Orange (24-19, 8-9 Atlantic Coast) bats at bay, tossing a complete game five-hitter to lead the Raiders to a 3-2 game 2 win on Wednesday afternoon at SU Softball Stadium.

“We kind of played down because we thought that we could just roll over this team,” Ozanne said.

The Orange had scored at least three runs in each of its last 12 games and was coming off a 32-hit, 22-run weekend. In game 1 on Wednesday, Danielle Chitkowski hit a grand slam to help SU smack Colgate ace Kyle Griswold and down the Raiders, 10-3.

Yet the Orange struggled against game 2 starter Ieuter, who entered Wednesday with a 3-11 record. The senior right-hander had lost her last four outings and seven of her last eight. She allowed 22 hits in her last 16 and one-third innings.

After a rough first inning in which she allowed two runs on two hits, Ieuter’s screwball handled the Orange. She worked inside against SU righties all game, making it difficult for them to get their hands extended. She forced a number of weak jam shots, shallow pop-ups and weak groundouts.

“She killed us on the inside,” Ozanne said. “We had groundballs to the third baseman like crazy. If we get our barrels out and around it, then we’re hitting gap shots down the line.”

Ieuter threw first-pitch strikes and commanded the zone, walking just one. She induced 13 groundouts, a rate of almost two per inning. While she only struck out two, she worked quick innings. After the first frame, the Orange got the leadoff batter on base just twice. Even when it did get runners on, SU went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. With two outs, SU had just one hit in seven chances.

SU struggled with the screwball against North Carolina last month. The Tar Heels’ Kendra Lynch, a screwball-dominant pitcher, tossed all three games against SU. In games 2 and 3 — both complete game victories for Lynch — she allowed just four hits and two runs in 14 innings of work.

The Orange works on hitting screwballs, curveballs and drop balls in practice, but sometimes, like on Wednesday, it just doesn’t carry over in the game.

“That’s one thing we constantly have to harp on, being able to get to that inside pitch,” SU assistant coach Kristyn Sandberg said. “Otherwise, you see pitchers who are just going to keep working there and working there and working there. We’ll just keep getting ourselves out if we don’t make the adjustments.”

SU had its chances late in the game. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Orange had its three, four and five hitters due up. Before the inning, SU head coach Mike Bosch clapped and said, “Let’s find a way here. We got 3, 4, 5!”

Ozanne worked the count full, but grounded out to third. On the next pitch, Sydney O’Hara flied out to left field. Two batters later, Hannah Dossett chased a 2-2 fastball to strike out and end the frame.

Again the Orange had a chance. Again the Orange couldn’t convert.

“There was a period in that game,” Bosch said, “where we were just kind of there.”

And Ieuter’s screwball was there too.

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