Baseball aims for consistency

Sophomore outfielder Luke Richter pops the ball up in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game against Concordia Texas. Earlier in the game, Richter drove in the team’s fifth run of game to help the Comet’s to a 15-2 victory. Photo by Achint Khanijo | Mercury Staff.



Twenty-seven games in, UTD baseball players have experienced a regular season, defined by its 9-game win streak which was promptly overshadowed by four back-to-back losses.

With 13 games remaining, the Comets’ current record is 15-12. The team currently holds third place in the American Southwest Conference standings, going 9-4 against other ASC teams. This record, after 13 conference match-ups, is the same as it was in the 2017 season, when the team was 20-7 overall. Despite a comparatively diminished season, the team is winning the games it needs to win, head coach Shane Shewmake said.

“We’re kind of up and down right now, which is a little inconsistent,” Shewmake said. “But we’re winning the right ones and staying where we need to be right now.”

In order to make the ASC tournament as a high seed the Comets will need to win as many of their next 11 conference games as possible. Last season, they went 19-5 in ASC games, good for the second seed.

Over the course of the season, the Comets have maintained a greater batting average, at .338, than the average of their opponents, at .286. That difference in hits has translated to an offense that has converted their hits to RBIs 29 percent more often than that of their competition. When spelled out on a stat sheet, UTD has a total of 186 RBIs versus an opponent total of 144.

“We’ve been hitting well, and we’ve always been good on the offensive,” Shewmake said. “So far this season, we’ve been working on getting better consistency on the backend helping them to come around.”

The story is much the same for UTD’s fielding and pitching. The team’s fielding percentage edges out the competition with a .967 average for UTD and a .959 for opponents. The ERA of the team’s pitching also tops out competitors with 5.06 versus 6.43.

“It’s us coming together as a team and bringing our very best out there on the field,” junior catcher Dylan Palmer said. “That’s what makes it.”

Although their averages outperform the competition, the team isn’t performing like they did in 2017, partially because their fielding and pitching numbers are down. For pitching, the problems lie in fatigue. Of the 13 pitchers contributing to the team’s average ERA, only three of them are throwing in the majority of the games. Junior right-hander Jamie Androit alone has pitched through eight games this season, five of which have been key games against ASC opponents. Despite the Comets’ difficulties with addressing these issues, senior infielder Barry Casey credits much of the success the team has had with how they approach the season.

“We take it day by day, game by game,” Casey said. “We don’t worry too much about offseason or the next series coming up.”

While the chance for a regular season record like that in 2017 is passed, the Comets are currently sitting in the same playoff position as last year. UTD will face off against teams with a winning percentage that is at least .200 lower. With the skill advantage that confers, it will give the team extra breathing room to address any problems before the ASC tournament planned for May 4-6.

“It’s all about positive energy,” Palmer said. “The team that gets the loudest and comes together, that’s the one that’s going to win the game and we try to bring that every game.”



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