Story Poster
Photo by SFA Athletics
Stephen F. Austin Softball

Softball Thoughts: Ladyjacks struggling at mid-point of the season

April 11, 2017
7,505

Another series away from home, another series lost for the Ladyjacks.

There was a lot of hope and optimism both within the locker room and outside of it leading into the season. Right now, at least on the outside, with a month to go in the season, it has started to fade.

The Ladyjacks softball team sits in the bottom half of the Southland Conference standings. It's where they were picked in the preseason, but those closer to the program saw potential for much more. Growing pains were expected, no doubt. It is very hard to build a DI program in a single season while relying on junior college talent. Still, the results so far have to be considered mildly disappointing.

Being 5-7 in conference still provides an opportunity to get hot late and make a tournament run - so don't mistake me, the season is far from settled. Here are a few things to keep in mind in the aftermath of Conway:

Where did all of the seniors go? -


In an article that I wrote earlier in the season, just after the five-game losing streak that started off the 2017 campaign, I keyed on senior leadership and how it would impact the team. I did not realize at the time, however, that three of the four seniors that SFA had coming into the season would no longer be with the team before the season had even reached its halfway point.

Brittany Lewis is the only senior remaining on the Ladyjacks squad, and she has predictably picked back up where she left last season, playing like the star she is and leading the team in almost every category offensively (while still playing her typically solid defense).

Even Lewis, though, has struggled for stretches with her bat in the conference season. The offensive depth has lacked the ability to absorb off nights for her.  Amber Landry has been one of the more effective transfers, hitting .321 and a team-high five home runs, but the team has hit just .230 overall on the year.

Which leads us to...

The pitching is there, but the bats? Not so much. -


Early scoring has been crucial to the team this season, as run support always makes pitching a little easier. That the Ladyjacks jumped out to an early lead no doubt was a key factor in their ability to save being swept in Conway, as it has been throughout the season.

10 of the 13 wins this season have come when SFA has gotten on the board first. Look for this to continue to be huge down the road, as an early cushion eases the mind of the pitcher that has it more than anyone else, except for maybe the head coach.

Callee Guffey has once again pitched very well this season. She had another solid outing on Saturday within the circle to take the W at Farris Field in Conway. She is now 7-8 on the season, accruing more than half of the team’s wins to this point in the season. Her 1.40 ERA is remarkable, and if the bats can find themselves the potential is good for this team to win.

What is discouraging is that Guffey, even with her numbers being what they are, still sports a losing record. That is, in a lot of ways, a microcosm of the issue here.

The Ladyjacks are 11th of 12 teams in the Southland Conference in batting average. 10th in on base percentage, 10th in runs scored, and 3rd with a 190 strikeouts. The pitching has been very good and the defensive fielding has been acceptable - but without scoring runs it's worth, well, 7th place in the league.

Stringing together a winning streak has been a bit of an issue -


Even being on the road, the series in Conway presented itself as an opportunity for SFA. UCA, now 6-9 in the league, is a team the Ladyjacks were supposed to beat if they saw themselves as better than their current 7th place. It was a series that could have potentially vaulted the Ladyjacks into a solid place entering the final month of the season.

The team that just took a series from in Huntsville the weekend prior is now staring up at Sam Houston State in the standings once again. Central Arkansas currently sits just behind Northwestern State in what is a pretty close race for mediocrity. Only three of the 12 teams in the conference have overall winning records this season, with McNeese (as expected) leading the pack.

A tough test before a couple very winnable series -


The next game, a non-conference matchup, for the Ladyjacks will be against another team with an all-new coaching staff; although that team has fared quite a bit better than ours this season. The upcoming game with the University of Houston is a great way to see what SFA can accomplish against a more highly touted name at home, beginning a seven-game home stand.

The Lady Cougars are 20-17 on the season, but are coming fresh off the licking that they just placed on UConn, pouring in 22 runs in the last game of the home sweep, which is an American Athletic Conference record. UH will be traveling to Tulsa to continue their conference schedule after the one-game stint in Nacogdoches later this afternoon.

After today, the Ladyjacks will take on HBU and UIW, two of the teams towards the very bottom of the standings. With HBU, the SLC's 10th place team up first, here’s to hoping that the results of the game against the Lady Cougars can light a fire under this team so that the Huskies might have something to fear.

Softball Thoughts: Ladyjacks struggling at mid-point of the season

7,511 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 5 yr ago by PurpleForever
Ljacks&Longnecks
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Jon, I know you can't go into details but 3 seniors leaving the team after the season started seems odd. I'm guessing maybe conflict with the new coaching staff......

As for softball and baseball overall, like many here I feel that if SFA would find the funds for a new baseball/softball complex that would greatly enhance recruiting and could move SFA to the top of the conference in these sports.
Jon
How long do you want to ignore this user?
New facilities would definitely help, but as most of us know, getting funding for anything in regard to SFA athletics is not the easiest of tasks.

In regard to the departure of Blackwell, Vick, and Chambers, you aren't wrong in citing the coaching staff change, although there were some other factors that played in.
- Jon Godeaux
BigJack85
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I recall the ill fated attempt to build an on campus baseball/softball complex. I don't know how much money the Pilgrim family put up.... I'm guessing $1 - $3 million. In my opinion the plan may have been to ambitious. I certainly would have liked to see a $20 million complex on the edge of campus but the reality is we would never raise more than $4 - $5 and that might be a stretch.

I hope we find some new avenues for revenue and soon. I don't want us to fall behind. In reality we are in some areas already.
Jon
How long do you want to ignore this user?
in more areas than I care to mention, we definitely are. Hard to pull good athletes or even students in general when things get too outdated, but that's a whole article in itself.
- Jon Godeaux
softballmom
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Jon- To write an article on a team that is clearly in the process of changing and growing and not citing the successes they have had is awfully judgmental journalism in my opinion. Why knock at them when they are working hard for success? Why bring undue attention to seniors who quit the team? They let down the TEAM the TEAM didn't let them down? Your article doesnt highlight all of the players who work day in and day out to find success. Maybe you should highlight those student athletes? You mention Landry, Guffey and Lewis, yes 3 hard working athletes, but with your positives you laced with negatives that the team really doesn't need at this juncture of the season.
My family has attended multiple games this season and have heard the most positive encouraging coaching staff. I'm not sure what your athletic prowess is but, I am a coach, former athlete and mother of an athlete (not playing at SFA ) and anytime you have coaching change it takes time to find players who believe in your coaching approach, and the ones that don't buy in are usually the ones that quit.
I have witnessed the team of coaches they quite stellar and once the dedicated athletes buy in to the approach they bring to the table there is no doubt that the team will find success. With all confidence the dedicated student athletes that continue to work with the program and help it on the road to success will indeed prove to lead the SFA Lady Jacks to big wins in the future. Prepare for Purple Lights....

SFA Jack Fanatic
How long do you want to ignore this user?
softballmom said:

Jon- To write an article on a team that is clearly in the process of changing and growing and not citing the successes they have had is awfully judgmental journalism in my opinion. Why knock at them when they are working hard for success? Why bring undue attention to seniors who quit the team? They let down the TEAM the TEAM didn't let them down? Your article doesnt highlight all of the players who work day in and day out to find success. Maybe you should highlight those student athletes? You mention Landry, Guffey and Lewis, yes 3 hard working athletes, but with your positives you laced with negatives that the team really doesn't need at this juncture of the season.
My family has attended multiple games this season and have heard the most positive encouraging coaching staff. I'm not sure what your athletic prowess is but, I am a coach, former athlete and mother of an athlete (not playing at SFA ) and anytime you have coaching change it takes time to find players who believe in your coaching approach, and the ones that don't buy in are usually the ones that quit.
I have witnessed the team of coaches they quite stellar and once the dedicated athletes buy in to the approach they bring to the table there is no doubt that the team will find success. With all confidence the dedicated student athletes that continue to work with the program and help it on the road to success will indeed prove to lead the SFA Lady Jacks to big wins in the future. Prepare for Purple Lights....


Hmmm... I read the article and it seemed to be a pretty honest and right-on assessment of the current team situation to me. With all due respect, I didn't find it overly negative at all... Pitching good. Hitting not so good. Still time to make a move in conference. That all sounds about right to me.
INiedrauer
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
I don't think Jon's article was unfairly negative at all. You can't have an honest sports discussion, like this site tries to facilitate, if the premise itself isn't honest. Words like "mildly disappointing" are more than fair to describe a season like this (so far) when the coaching staff sold them early as a potentially title contending group.

I think Coach Dickson has done a nice job with everything considered. It's hard to take a program in a new direction with veteran players that may or may not buy in. That's really, really hard and it's not an envious job. I wouldn't bet against her having a successful run at SFA, but there was nothing unfair or unnecessarily negative about this impartial assessment of where the team stands a couple months in.
PurpleForever
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I'm a strong supporter of both baseball and softball programs here. I attend most games and know a lot of the athletes/coaches. I appreciate the article and didn't see anything unnecessary about the content. This has been a rather disappointing year (so far) for this team. There is a good deal of talent on this team and as highlighted in the article, it all boils down to offense. If you watch any softball or baseball you know that hitting is contagious so it could change in the blink of an eye. They have two series in a row to get the bats hot before facing two great teams to finish the regular season. After watching this team play both Nicholls and Lamar, they can beat anyone in the conference if they just get a little bit of offense going.
Refresh
Page 1 of 1
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.