Well we are two series into the season and to say we have a mixed bag situation going with the baseball team could well be an understatement so far!
Overall my concerns still revolve around the pitching. Sure the offense went quiet against San Diego State and San Diego and the defense got pretty sloppy at times, but really with OSU baseball I see things starting with the pitching. I think this is especially the case with the defense and with opposing teams making a ton of excellent contact there increases the chances for errors. Plus I also think that players start to force the issue on plays to kick start the team and overcompensate for pitching problems.
That said though the Kansas State game was a pretty telling bounce back I think. That game was not a perfect one by any means but showed the Beavs have game and toughness. I don't believe it is THE game to mold an identity into this team but I do feel it could well be an important game in this process.
How did the three main areas do over the weekend? Let's take a look.
Again just going to lump it all together into a general type of "grading" scheme.
OFFENSE = Again between good and fair. The team had a couple very good games offensively against Pacific and Kansas State. The win against K. State actually was an excellent offense showing with three HRs (including Hayes' grand slam) and four doubles (all by Barnes and Smith) and only three strikeouts by the entire order. Throughout all the games the small ball seemed to working well enough and even at times caused some issues with the opposing defenses throwing the ball away on rushed plays. The problem though is that I really thought the offense got in a slump in the middle two games and this built too much on the terrible pitching and holes were dug way too deep. Where is the offense at overall though? Not sure, but really seems to me to be where it always is with OSU baseball and it is not the main point of the game but we once again have a good amount of potential to tap into. The question becomes will it be tapped into on a consistent basis?
DEFENSE = Fair to Needs Improving. As mentioned already I do feel some of the problems of the defense stemmed from pitching issues and there were A LOT of balls hit at the fielders. Additionally when the team found itself falling behind I felt players tried to make plays when maybe it would have been better to sit on the ball (for example a couple plays by Keyes where he threw the ball away on a close play). I admire the heart to try and make something happen, but in baseball something happening the other way is more likely in these cases and when that happens it is much worse than holding off and working with the play. I will say it was not all starting from the pitching end and at times the team did put pitchers in bad spots with that worse of worse lead off batter getting on base with our fielding errors. I still am in the place where I think the defense will fall into place and some key inning ending plays (like the double play against K. State to get out of a possible momentum swing situation) were a reason why I'm still fine with the D.
PITCHING = Needs Improving. I want to be a bit more kind here but really the pitching was not up to standards once again in any of the games. No one starting or in relief is getting the strikeouts and the contact opposing hitters are getting has been way too solid. Wilkerson had an okay start and I think with a bit of time he could find a good place within the starting rotation (so I am going with ocho_ocho a bit more now seeing some more of a regular type of starting rotation). But still have no idea if we have any type of idea of a true starting rotation. Bryant looks to be in form overall, but this will mean nothing if the starters and relief can't keep things in check. I know these four game series are not helping things (I mean did that San Diego State game basically pan out to be a throw away game with our bullpen rotation? Ryan Dunn?), but I am not feeling overly excited about the across the board pitching so far. I know also that the coaching staff is a bit confused too, especially with the injuries of key players here, and are working stuff out. Another problem I see now is that the team really has one more series to play with the rotation, then they host some very good non-conference teams and then it is conference time. I will hold off saying "time is running out" but would again like to see a more substantial step forward this upcoming weekend.
In my last review I said I wasn't too concerned yet, but will now say I'm getting a bit more so. But will also say that win yesterday got me out of my own fan hole of despair and is something that can very much be built upon. We have four days to find out how much that win meant.