Though Ole softball has jumpstarted itself into a likely playoff spot with an impressive win streak, their male counterparts on the diamond have been relatively sluggish to start conference play after nearly a month of game cancellations and postponements.
Thanks to a condensed schedule attempting to cram all MIAC play into a short two-week timespan, St. Olaf baseball was forced to play six games in three days this past weekend at Concordia. The Oles combined for a dubious 1-5 record against St. Thomas, Augsburg and Concordia to start their marathon schedule, positioning them second to last in conference and facing a steep uphill battle to realize their playoff aspirations.
The win-loss ratio doesn’t tell the entire story, however, as five of those six contests were decided by one run. In reality, the Oles presented formidable challenges to each of their opponents this weekend and could just as easily have won five games as opposed to one. Essentially, the lack of a clutch factor and some unfortunate luck are the only tangible differences between St. Olaf and a playoff ranking.
The depth that the Oles have shown thus far point to excellent team baseball that has carried them to success in season’s past, providing hope for a turnaround. Led by breakout outfielder T.J. Rogers ’21, who leads the team with a .404 batting average and 38 hits, and outfielder Ryan Torbensen ’20, topping the Oles in homeruns (3) and slugging percentage (.519), St. Olaf has quietly put together a deep, legitimate offense that ranks fourth in the MIAC in team runs (137) and batting average (.308). Pitching has shown dramatic improvement as well thanks to fast starts by Jake Mathison ’18 (2.14 ERA) and Devine Hanson ’20 (2.35 ERA), in addition to great bullpen support by closer Luke Feigal ’20 and Elliot Syverson ’20, who have combined to hold opponents to a .074 average. Combined, the Oles rank fifth in the MIAC for team ERA (3.74) and third for total hits allowed (157).
The pitching showed up in the first three games last weekend and disappeared in the latter half of the contests, perhaps indicating some fatigue from the new schedule. The hitting was the opposite. If the Oles can get both to consistently show up, they may still have a shot at the playoffs yet.