2013 NCAA softball regionals: Oregon State is battle-tested and flawed

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Given how the bracket normally falls, if seeds hold to form, #1 MU would not match up at any point with #3 Oregon State.

If there is a team which MU is not “likely” to play, it would be this one. However, we are one upset or bad outing away from seeing the Lady Beavs, so let’s get them the treatment. Let’s see what Oregon State brings to the table.

Oregon State Schedule/Results:

Coming out of the Pac-12, which is as strong a softball conference as there is in the land, Oregon State finished the year with an overall record of 33-22. They were just 8-6 at home, an even-worse 5-12 on the road, but 20-4 in neutral site games. They went only 8-16 in the Pac-12, but that was still good enough for a RPI of 36, putting them slightly ahead of the “S” curve for the 3-seed in the #6 regional. Oregon State’s best out of conference win came against #45 Northwestern, who they beat on two different occasions of 7-3 and 12-1 (6). They have losses against #1 OU (14-2 in 5) and #10 Kentucky 5-3. In conference, their best wins came against #19 UCLA (winning 1 of 3) and #29 Arizona, who they swept by the same 2-1 score in each of the three games.

Common Opponents:

Coming back to Kentucky for a moment, Oregon State and MU almost played a LOT of the same teams this year. Almost, of course, because of the weather. But for teams separated by conferences, two time zones and just over 2,000 miles (2,003 to be exact), their schedules were almost strangely paralleled. In games which were actually completed, here is how we stack up

  • Kentucky – MU went 2-1 against the ‘Cats, Oregon State lost 5-3
  • Maryland – MU won 13-1, Oregon State won 8-0
  • Cal-Fullerton – MU split two games, Oregon State won 9-5
  • Georgia Tech – MU crushed two games, Oregon State won 9-1
  • San Diego State – MU won 2-1, Oregon State won 9-5

Now, here is a list of teams we were both supposed to play, but did not for various reasons.

  • Creighton – MU did not play, Oregon State lost 5-3
  • Illinois – MU did not play, Oregon State won 5-1
  • Iowa – MU did not play, Oregon State lost 9-3
  • Fresno State – MU took both games, Oregon State did not play (this was their only cancelled game of the season)

Nine common opponents would have been very strange. As it stands, they held up pretty well against the similar competition. Let’s see how they went about winning (or losing) their games.

Oregon State Offense:

If you were seeding these teams by offense, they would line up as they have 1-4. Oregon State is definitely a strong #3 here between OSU and SBU, but at a high level, here is how they compare to MU:

  • Team Batting Average: OSU is .282 to MU .320
  • Team OBP/Slug: OSU is .377/.445 to MU .416/.531
  • Runs: OSU scored 267 in 55 games to MU scoring 302 in 46
  • HR’s: OSU had 51 to MU’s 59
  • BB’s/K’s: OSU has 177/221 to MU 189/175
  • Steals: OSU had 49 to MU 56

Decent pop in the bats, and they do have a little bit of speed they seem to employ. They don’t have a ton of doubles/triples and they do appear to be free-swinging (though they do have to face some pretty tough pitching in the Pac-12). Using a lineup card from their last series against UCLA, let’s see how they shape up top to bottom

1. Lea Cavestany (Sr-RF) - .331, tied for team lead in hits (56) and 2nd in HR’s (10) and RBI’s (42)

2. Ashley Sanchez (Sr-LF) - .293 in 50 starts with only 7 K’s (but also only 8 BB’s)

3. Elizabeth Santana (Sr-SS) - .309 and led the team in steals with 11

4. Natalie Hampton (Fr-1B) - .346 and led the team in batting average, hits (t-56), doubles (13), HR’s (15), RBI’s (50), total bases (114), and slugging (.704)

5. Desiree Beltran (Sr-3B) - .273 in 55 starts. Led the team in HBP with 15

6. Bailey Niehus (Jr-DP) - .133 in only six starts (sophomore Dani Gilmore was not in the last lineup, but she did start 44 games at .277 and led the team in runs (38) and OBP at .450 thanks to a team-high 36 walks)

7. Ya Garcia (Fr-2B) - .318 in 55 starts. Was 2nd on the team in stolen bases with 10

8. Ally Kutz (Sr-C) - .225 in 51 starts

9. Hannah Bouska (Jr-CF) - .227 in 47 starts, led the team with 43 K’s.

Lots of turnover coming to a lineup near you in Corvallis next year with five seniors exiting. I am not sure what happened to Gilmore and why she was not in this game, but I did not really bother to check that hard. At any rate, some decent numbers at the top with four over .300 and two in double-figures in HR’s. You had even distribution of people scoring, as five people scored between 33 and 38 runs apiece. However, you had a pretty skewed RBI production, with #2 at 42 and #3 at 28. If anything, it seems like the lineup I used may not have been the normal order, since Cavestany is #2 on the team in RBI’s, but the bottom of the lineup was pretty dreadful.

Oregon State Defense:

With 57 errors in 55 games, Oregon State is good to do something stupid once per game. Their fielding percentage is only decently high (.964) because their pitchers appear to pitch to contact and only struck out 239 batters on the season. Individually, Cavestany leads the way with 15 from shortstop, though Beltran was solid from third with only 5. Ally Kutz, the catcher, is second on the team with 7, so keep an eye on that. Errors committed by the team led to 42 unearned runs scored.

Oregon State Pitching:

Though five people accrued pitching stats this year for Oregon State, only two appear to be worth of mention. With a team ERA of 3.68, and a batting average against of .246, there are some runs to be had against the Beavers. Senior Marina Denmore is the most accomplished starter for Oregon State, having gone 20-11 on the year with a 3.03 ERA. In 168.2 innings, she gave up 153 hits and 60 BB’s with 98 K’s, but 24 HR’s hit against her. #2 starter senior Tina Andreana was all over the place, with a 9-7 record against a 3.74 ERA. In 127.1 innings, she gave up 107 hits and 115 walks (seriously), with 103 K’s. She also hit 25 people and threw 7 wild pitches. I don’t think she knew where it was going all the time.

Overall Thoughts:

Can Oregon State hang with Hofstra? If Galati is off, sure. But on the surface, I really think the seeding (at least towards the bottom) is extremely likely to hold. I think Oregon State does not have enough pitching to stop the bats of Hofstra, but has more than enough hitting to stomp through SBU in the play-back game. Where MU fans have to be interested is OSU’s ability to make Galati throw as many pitches as possible, as the tourney would have them facing her twice. OSU worked a solid number of walks, so that is a positive. I think they can score a run or two, but I don’t think their pitching holds up. In the end, I think OSU goes 1-2 on their way out of Como, but here’s hoping they take on Hofstra and make them really earn it.

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