Offensive struggles at the plate cause Wave’s slow start
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Tulane baseball made it to the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference last year and played in the NCAA Regional Playoff. Despite losing head coach David Pierce and five players to the MLB, the Wave retained five positional starters and new head coach Travis Jewett brings a history of winning experience this year.
Sadly, through 11 games, the Wave sports a 3-8 record and there are concerning patterns in the team’s play.
At the plate, the Green Wave has struggled significantly with strikeouts. It has struck out 113 times over the first 11 contests, more than 10 per game. This is not just a few bad games distorting the average. The Wave has only struck out less than 10 times on four occasions, its game high this season being 13 strikeouts.
This bad habit demonstrates a bigger underlying problem: a lack of an effective two-strike approach. An effective two-strike approach has batters shorten up their swing and emphasizes making contact to prevent striking out. Tulane’s poor strikeout record shows it is either ineffectively executing this method approach or the method is not appropriate given the circumstances.
While the Green Wave has struggled with strikeouts, it has not struggled with hitting home runs. It is tied for 34th in the nation in home runs with 12 and is tied for 38th in the nation in home runs per game with 1.09, proving this team can hit with power.
This can make for some exciting baseball, as demonstrated in Tulane’s 9-8 win against West Virginia on Friday when the team hit two homers. Reliance on the big fly is not an efficient way to win games, and until Tulane demonstrates a little bit of finesse at the plate, it will struggle to win consistently.
In addition to its plate struggles, Tulane’s batting average is 243rd in the nation at .232, a 32-point drop from last year’s .264 average. All these hitting struggles are worrying since Jewett comes from a hitting background at his last job as the hitting coach at Vanderbilt. While current issues could range from a disconnect between players and coach or Jewett struggling to adjust to the responsibilities of head coaching, both parts of the team will need to pull together before the season falls into disarray.
Fans will hope that this is an early season slump as both Jewett and the players adjust to each other, and once they are on the same page, the real Green Wave baseball team will crash ashore.