Tribe’s Stellar Hitting Carries Team

Tribe vs. Cavaliers - Plumeri Park, Feburary 2014
Tribe vs. Cavaliers – Plumeri Park, Feburary 2014

William and Mary’s baseball team is currently 22-14 overall (6-2, CAA). After an up and down start to the season, the Tribe went on a stretch going 15-3, including a 7-0 shutout win to in state foe Virginia Tech. Recently, however, the team has gone 4-7 in their last 11 games, with the most recent loss occurring in Charlottesville— an 11-2 loss to UVa.

This was the second of two meetings between the Tribe and the Cavaliers, the number one team in the country. The first meeting didn’t end any better, as the Tribe lost 17-2 at Plumeri Park back in February.

The W&M squad is led by the bats of juniors Michael Katz and Nick Thompson, both of whom are currently batting over .400. In fact, Thompson is seventh in the nation in batting average at .420. Additionally, Katz leads the nation in both home runs and RBIs, with 14 home runs and 64 RBIs in just 36 games played, and has been named CAA player of the week twice.

These monster numbers have garnered the attention of coaches across the country, and recently Katz was named to USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Mid-Season Watch List, as well as a Midseason All-American Team by Baseball America.

Katz and Thompson are two members of a very explosive Tribe lineup. As of April 16th, William and Mary ranks number one in the nation in hits and runs with 445 hits and 333 runs in just 36 games.

The Tribe also ranks 3rd in the nation in both team batting average and home runs, with an overall batting average of .330 and hitting 41 home runs in 36 games. This powerful offense has led to William and Mary blowing some teams out of the water in individual games, such as Army (21-3), Campbell (19-7), Iona (31-1), and most recently, James Madison (24-6).

While the hitting has been consistent most of the season, pitching has been up and down, to say the least. William and Mary ranks 198th in the nation in team ERA, giving up an average of 4.75 runs per game. They also rank 160th in the nation in strikeouts per game, averaging about 6.4 per game.

Perhaps when playing CAA foes or in-state teams, good hitting can beat good pitching, as seen in the close yet high scoring games against Radford (7-6), Richmond (16-11), and Delaware (13-10). However, if this year’s edition of Tribe baseball hopes to accomplish what last year’s team in securing an NCAA tournament bid, pitching will need to improve.

William and Mary has the bats to compete with any team in the nation. When playing top tier teams like UVa, the Tribe has surrendered 17 runs and 11 runs, respectively or 28 runs in two games. But a powerful batting lineup such as the Tribe’s cannot overcome such large deficits.

If William and Mary does indeed make the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, good pitching will be essential. Last year’s team played in four NCAA tournament games, going 2-2 and impressively surrendering only 13 runs in four games.

This number includes the loss to NC State by 9 runs in the final game of the tournament. Thus, if this year’s team wants to compete on the national stage, pitching will have to come around.

That is of course, if the team receives a bid to the NCAA tournament. The Tribe will be battle-tested in the final weeks of their season, and how they respond will tell us a lot about this squad. In the remaining 16 games of the regular season, 9 of these are against CAA opponents.

The CAA championship tourney is in late May, and by winning the tournament, the Tribe can earn an automatic bid to the NCAAs. Let’s hope that the team will perform well in the remaining 16 games and in the playoffs, resulting in receipt of an at-large bid, as last year’s team did.

Again, this Tribe team has the bats to compete with anybody. If pitching is effective, look for great things to happen for the Tribe in the CAA tournament.

Thanks for reading, leave a comment and let us know what you think of this year’s Tribe team!

-Kyle

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