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Softball: Pitching under fire unjustly

For whatever reason, pitchers are the only players assigned the entire team’s wins and losses. This is unfortunate and that’s the way it has been in baseball throughout the history of the sport.

Of course, you can physically calculate a pitcher’s worth by using statistics, but most people don’t take the trouble to do this and blame the pitcher right off.

It has been an ugly start for the Lady Trojans softball team. They have dropped three tough games, losing to Sierra Vista, Spring Valley and Cheyenne. It’s early in the season and the Trojans can still make some adjustments.

What is the team to do? Is the pitching at fault? The pitcher is usually the first to blame.

It was reported by me that Amaya Mendoza gave up 15 runs and was pulled from the game. Well, that may have been true but not totally accurate.

I had spoken to the coach that day and we talked about the pitching. I asked him if it was a problem and he started talking about errors. He told me that there were up to 10 errors that game against Cheyenne. That by no means is the pitcher’s fault.

Really the problem is a defensive problem and has been the problem the whole time.

The team has had some rough games where the pitcher would go out there and get two outs and then an infield pop fly is hit and goes untouched by the outfield.

Trojans Coach Elias Armendariz teams have been defensively sound in past years, but they also had a pitcher who could strike out 10 batters a game.

This is a whole new era now. Amaya Mendoza is a freshman and may need some more seasoning, but she is a sound pitcher. Mendoza is a control pitcher. She throws strikes. The problem is at this stage she lacks the zip that Whitney Roderick had. That will come with time. At least she gets in the strike zone.

If the team is on its game and hits well and plays decent defense, Mendoza looks great, but place her in a position where she goes up against solid hitting teams like Sierra Vista and the defense makes her look bad.

I use Sierra Vista as an example because I saw that game. Mendoza makes the hitters hit the ball on the ground or pop the ball up. The girls during tha game unofficially had 13 groundouts that they caught 3-4 popups. In the situation they made errors it was usually when they had two outs.

The problem is not Mendoza. It’s the whole team. They need to change and come out and play solid defense. Even the toughest and best teams had bad days when they didn’t have solid pitching backing them up.

Armendariz could change pitchers as he may do but what does he gain?

He loses a solid second baseman in Amanda Pryor.

Whatever happens on the field happens. The team will need to get behind whoever is pitching and play good defense.

Of course this happens to great pitchers in the majors all the time.

To go way back in history, Jack Russell was a pitcher for the Red Sox from 1926 to 1940. His lifetime record was 85 for 144.

He was a decent right-handed starter during the Red Sox’s worst period, the late 1920s and early 1930s. He later went to play a four-year stint with the hapless Senators as a reliever (he was 24-27 in Washington). He should have a better record but played for awful teams.

In modern times, this happens too. In 2013,Tim Lincecum for the San Francisco Giants had a bout with the “lack of defense disease.” In 2013 he had 10 wins and 14 losses. He was back-to-back Cy Young Award winner in 2008 and 2009, but then his defense gave him problems in 2013.

Tim Lincecum pitched a no-hitter on July 13, 2013. The right-hander allowed four walks and struck out 13 batters in the contest. He had to do that himself and he made a statement that he still had some stuff despite what his 4.37 ERA suggested. An average that was 2.48 when he won his last CYA.

In 2013 Aaron Harang was a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. He experienced a similar season in 2013. Despite hurling a 5.38 ERA, the pitcher has also posted career bests in BB/9 (1.6) and K/BB (4.27). Again his defense was not backing him up.

The lack of defense will pass for the Trojans as the team improves. Look for Mendoza to get through this with flying colors.

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