The East Carolina University softball team, in a season defined by inconsistency and streaks, is in the middle of another losing streak after being swept by the University of Tulsa this past weekend.
ECU lost to Tulsa (22-14, 3-3) 5-0 on Thursday, 4-1 on Friday and 9-0 on Saturday. Including the series against the University of Houston (22-12, 3-3 AAC) last weekend, where ECU dropped two games, the Pirates (15-21, 1-5 AAC) have now lost five games in a row. Here are some of the factors contributing to its most recent losing stretch.
For starters, the offense hasn’t produced, and more specifically hasn’t hit the home runs it relies on. ECU ranks second to last in the American Athletic Conference in hits, but third in homers. During this five-game losing streak, the Pirates have only hit three home runs, all in the same game against Houston. It has been much worse in the other four losses, as ECU has been shutout in three of the four games, and only scored one run in the other. Home runs have accounted for seven out of the eight runs the team has scored in the last five games, and without them, the offense goes quiet.
On the mound for ECU, just about everything has gone wrong. In this five-game losing streak, opposing teams have scored at least four runs every game and nine or more in three games. This season, ECU is last in the AAC in hits allowed, walks allowed, runs allowed and opponent batting average.
The defense is also tied for the second most errors in the AAC, suggesting the pitchers could be wary about errors. Coach Courtney Oliver has said this season the pitchers tend to revert to trying to overpitch, simply trying to do it all and blow the pitch past hitters instead of pitching strategically. If pitchers lose confidence due to hits early in the inning or because of errors in the field, they might start overthrowing and allow hitters to see pitches in the middle of the strike zone more.
This losing streak is the third time this season ECU has lost three or more games in a row. The frustrating part about the inconsistency is the Pirates also have three different win-streaks of at least three games.
This is how the streaks this season have gone for ECU: lost three in a row, won five in a row, lost 12 in a row, won three in a row, won six in a row and now lost five in a row. During losing streaks, it has been ugly, as ECU has been outscored 119-30. In winning streaks, ECU can be as good as any team, outscoring opponents 77-31. Whether it has been winning or losing, the Pirates have done it in bunches. Right now, the Pirates are in the latter as it endures this five game losing streak.
ECU will have a chance to bounce back off of this losing streak quickly as it travels to Campbell University on Tuesday for a game starting at 6 p.m. The Pirates could use that game against the Camels (15-19) as an opportunity to get back to their winning ways before they hosts the University of Memphis this weekend. Memphis (26-10, 3-3 AAC) has the best winning percentage among AAC teams, making it to be a tough series coming up. The first game is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m.