Eshel-Mania: Softball heats up after slow start

By Aaron Eshelman, Staff Writer

The Newman softball team is heating up at just the right time.

As of Wednesday morning, the Jets have gone 4-5 in their last nine games. This is a huge improvement after they were winless through their first eight games of the season.

Newman’s offense has averaged over five runs per game. This ranks in the top half of Division II. Newman’s team on base percentage also ranks near the top half in the country.

Although things are looking better as conference play approaches, it can’t be denied that Newman has struggled mightily so far this season from the circle. They rank 215th out of 250 Division II teams in Earned Run Average, according to the NCAA’s website.

One of the biggest reasons for this is walks. The Jets have issued 52 free passes this season, which is the most out of any MIAA team. Only 18 teams in the country have allowed more walks.

The Jets’ pitching staff has not been helped by their defense, which averages almost two errors per game - the second worst in the conference and also bottom third in the country.

Despite these struggles, there is plenty of reason to be hopeful for the remaining 36 games on the Jets’ schedule.

If Newman can limit walks and defensive miscues, I don’t see any reason why it can’t continue its recent string of success.

Wednesday afternoon, Newman faced off against McPherson College, a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Previously the Jets were 2-0 this season against NAIA competition, having played Friends University earlier this year.

These games serve as a tune up for the Jets before their MIAA conference opener on Friday at home vs. former Heartland Conference foe Rogers State.

Newman is 9-13 vs. the Hillcats in the D2 era, and the Jets will look to close the gap in the all-time series this weekend.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics