Thursday, May 15, 2014

Too Much to Discuss

When I last left, the UT-Arlington men's basketball team was preparing for a conference tournament berth, the women were wrapping up a rebuilding season which showed promise but ended in disappointment, the baseball and softball seasons were beginning, the men's indoor track team was prepping for an eventual conference championship run and various other sports were on the verge of competing in or starting their seasons.

Sadly for this blog, but thankfully for personal reasons, I started a new job at the end of January that requires an extensive amount of training, all away from a computer, much of it on my own time. Come the end of October, there will be more time to get these reports consistently out there, but til then, I will try to get out what I can.

Baseball had a fan-frustrating year. At the beginning of the year, the team was receiving votes in the pre-season top 25. They had several poor showings early in the year, losing to two D-I transitional schools and having a 3-7 record against old Southland Conference foes, supposedly inferior competition to the new Sun Belt Conference. These losses ruined their chances for an at-large spot, despite winning three games against top 25 competition.

The odd thing was it was never the same MO in losses. One day the offense wouldn't show (they have the second best offense in the conference), the next it was the starting pitchers. Then the starters would pitch well and the offense would give them a lead, then the bullpen would blow it. The only consistent thing the team displayed was their inconsistency.

They started conference play by getting swept in San Marcos and losing the series to Arkansas State. I really wrote the team off at that point.

However, they have gone 15-6 since then and have beat everyone in the conference at least once, including UL-Lafayette, who was #2 in the country at that point. They are now in sole possession of third in the SBC after tonight's win against Texas State.

After this weekend is the conference tournament, and after tonight's game against the Bobcats, they have to win one of the final two games, both at home to clinch third in the standings.

The softball team was disappointing, but there is no question this years SBC was the toughest conference lineup UTA had ever been a member. ULL and South Alabama were top 20 teams all year and Georgia State and Western Kentucky fielded really competitive teams. They struggled and finished last, but unlike baseball, UTA won enough non-conference games to not hurt the league's overall RPI.

The Offense was much better than the 2013 version, but the pitching was really lacking this year. Callie Collins just didn't deliver her potential. As a freshman, she carried a 1.72 ERA and was the pitcher of the year. Not freshman, but pitcher, as in the best in the conference. As a sophomore, the ERA ballooned to 3.28. Last year, it was 2.64, but she had a lot of hard luck losses where the offense just didn't show. This year, after spending time behind Shannon Carrico, who would eventually leave the team, her ERA as a senior was again over 3. For those that don't know, an ERA of 2.5-2.75 in softball is average at best. An ERA of three needs a lot of offense to compensate. It just wasn't there.

Her numbers are probably inflated more than they would have been otherwise because at the end of the season, she was it in the circle. Collins started 30 games. The rest of the team combined for 24. 19 of that was Carrico earlier in the year. Hopefully second year Kristie Fox will have a better showing next year with more of her recruits.

Since it is so out of season, I don't really want to get into the basketball teams, except to say for the men, just read my critiques of the team throughout the year and you'll see what got the men in the tournament. The women recently announced their recruiting class was the highest rated in the SBC, so here's to better results in the future.