After losing five of their first six, the softball team's run off nine in a row after going two for two Saturday in dumping Mercer and Hartford (not the Whalers).
They could make it 10 in a row by the end of this afternoon when they get another chance to whack Mercer, 7-0 victims of pitchers Corinne Jenkins and Shelby Graves Saturday, at 1:30 Sunday in the championship game of the FIU Classic. Sophomore Krystal Garcia continued her five-game hitting streak Saturday, matching senior Brie Rojas for longest streak of the season. Senior Jessy Alfonso has gone eight of 26 with eight runs scores and four RBI over the nine games.
Sunday's baseball series closer against Manhattan inspires two questions:
1. How will Mike Franco pitch in his second start? Franco, 10 months off Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow, showed a fastball with some turbo in his 45 pitches last Sunday against Stony Brook. Franco got through two and two-thirds innings and was one strike from working a full three when he got called off the mound.
Expect his pitch count to be around 50 this time.
2. Will Manhattan keep the Panthers out of double-digits? And, if not, will FIU score soon enough for the mercy rule to come into effect?
Considering what FIU's done to Manhattan's first two starters -- seven runs in 24 batters Friday, six runs in 10 batters Saturday -- Sunday's game could be longer than some of those Sunday baptist services I sat through in my youth. You never know, but I'm packing Pop Tarts. After scarfing my usual 14-16 pieces of bacon, four links of sausage and two biscuits from the David-prepared Sunday brunch.
The mercy rule usually gets employed only on Sundays, when a team's got to get out of town. Is somebody up by 10 after seven innings? Stop the fight. Friday still would've been a full game. Saturday would've been a TKO.
The baseball team's 5-1 start includes this funky fact -- the only starter to give up an earned run is Michael Ellis, theoretically the known quantity ace of the lineup. And Ellis got touched for four runs in each start.
There are two ways to look at this. If you're a sunny side up person, you say, "Once Ellis gets his stuff together, man, facing FIU's going to be like dealing with the 1970 Orioles because nobody's going to give up diddlysquat and the bats will just need to fart out a few runs each night."
If you're an Apocalyptic Baseball Annie, you say, "Uh, oh. These new guys might be dealing now, but how long can that hold up? And if the ace doesn't get it together..."
"Mike Ellis is our Friday night guy, but Mike is better than what he showed tonight," FIU coach Turtle Thomas said after Friday's 14-4 win against Manhattan."His velocity is good, everything was good, but when five out of six guys leading off innings get on base and he's behind too many hitters, threw too many pitches on the belt, those are fundamentals of the game that you've got to be able to do a good job on. Now, he competed his rear end off. Mike Ellis will always compete, give you his best effort. Mike's got to pitch more effectively to beat a lot of the teams we play during the year."
TRACK & FIELD
The Sun Belt Indoor Track & Field Championships starts Sunday. I'll try to keep you updated here.