Last season pitcher Melissa Bonner was flat-out dominant at times.
She led the Bobcats with 10 wins, nine of which came against Mid-American Conference foes. The left-handed starter was named First Team All-MAC, thanks in no small part to a microscopic 1.77 ERA in conference play.
This season has not been as kind to the southpaw senior, who has been hampered with injuries and control issues. Bonner is 2-4 on the year and didn’t even make it out of the first inning Friday against Ball State.
Coach Jodi Hermanek said that she doesn’t believe injuries are the issue for the team’s No. 2 starter and it was more because of her not being able to keep on top of the high-powered Cardinals lineup.
“She just left the ball hanging through the zone one too many times for a good team to miss on,” Hermanek said. “We sat down and talked about that today. She’s going to get to throw (batting practice) for a few days so she can really see the ball move.
“She’s going to step-up to the occasion. I have all the confidence in the world in her.”
Getting hits when they need ’em
With the exception of a six-run outburst on Friday in a loss to Ball State, the Bobcats have been held to three or fewer runs in their last five games, including a 3-0 loss to Miami in the second leg of Saturday’s double-header.
Against the RedHawks it wasn’t for lack of trying at the plate but rather a lack of capitalizing. The Bobcats peppered Miami starter Jessica Simpson with eight hits, but left nine runners on base, including five in scoring position.
“We had a lot of line drive outs against Miami in the fourth game of the weekend, so that means we’re connecting well,” Hermanek said. “At the same time, I felt later in the game that we had some opportunities with runners on — when we got a leadoff double — that we were just chasing pitches.”
Hermanek said the team is focusing on improving its situational hitting as they prepare to host Akron this weekend.
“It’s a challenging thing to put into practice, but at the same time it’s more of a discipline and a mental focus,” she said. “We know. We’re talking about it and we’re addressing it.”
Production from the bottom up
If the Bobcats, who have just two wins in their past 12, have plans of turning things around, they’ll need to get some more help for the bottom third of the lineup. The trio of first baseman Raven King, second baseman Brooke Morgart and center fielder Jillian Van Wagnen were a combined 6-for-27 at the plate against Ball State and Miami.
“We have some kids with some great hands in that part of the lineup,” she said. “They just need to really focus on the contact with the ball and letting the hit come to them.”