Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Orange Softball Headed to NCAA Tournament for Second Straight Year

By Conor Hurley 

The Syracuse University Softball team earned its second consecutive Big East tournament championship and also a second consecutive NCAA tournament bid with a 2-1 victory over Louisville on Saturday.

The Orange (44-11) are now set to play LSU (36-16) in the tournament in College Station, Texas this Friday. The tournament has 64 teams, consisting of 30 automatic, conference-winning bids and 34 at-large bids. There are 16 four-team regional rounds that are in double elimination format.

The Orange are not new to this format as they lost Oklahoma and Maryland in the 2010 regional round in College Park, Maryland.  

The goal for this year is to utilize last year’s experience to have a better performance this time around.

"With the experience we have with the upperclassman and the success that they've had, we are more comfortable in these situations,” SU Head Coach Leigh Ross said. “The team is getting used to winning. We know that LSU is going to be tough, but we faced them last year so we are kind of familiar with what they have."

One of the upperclassmen with success Ross speaks of is undoubtedly the All-Big East selection and conference Pitcher of the Year Jenna Caira, who has a program-best 34 wins this season.

Similar to how an NHL team’s success in the playoffs is very dependent on goaltending, a softball team’s success is dependent on pitching because one ace usually carries the pitching load for the team. If Caira is as terrific as she has been all season in this year’s tournament, the Orange have a legitimate shot to make a title run.

The Orange begin their title run this Friday at 5 p.m. vs. LSU. 

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