Previewing The Baton Rouge Regional: Fordham
The Baton Rouge, La. softball regional gets underway on Friday at Tiger Park, with four teams vying for a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns, making their 20th-consecutive regional appearance, will be part of a field that also includes the LSU Tigers, the top-seed in the regional, and the #11-overall seed, along with the Houston Cougars and the Fordham Rams in the double-elimination event.
Louisiana will take on Houston in the first game of the regional, on Friday at 3 pm, followed by a match-up pitting LSU and Fordham at 5:30 pm.
Today, we preview the Fordham Rams:
Making their 8th NCAA tournament appearance, Fordham, winners of 6-consecutive Atlantic 10 titles, will be making their 6th-straight regional appearance.
The Rams, who enter the regional with an overall record of 26-26, are looking to advance to their first NCAA Super Regional, after falling in the regional final in both 2010 and 2015.
Fordham enters the regional with an overall record of 33-21, after losing their first 8 games, and 10 of their first 11.
Why did they get off to such a poor start?
Was it because they play in a weaker softball conference, and beat up on those squads, after falling to most teams outside of their league?
Was it because the school is located in New York, and like most teams from up north, struggle to begin the season, due to the cold weather when they begin practice in January?
Well, it's probably a little bit of both.
Fordham is an oddity, in that they're a low-major school with home run power.
As a matter of fact, the Rams have more homers than any team in the regional, with 59.
Now, did they face the caliber of pitchers in Atlantic 10 play that they will face this weekend? Certainly not. Still, they have some players that have some pop.
Centerfielder Chelsea Skrepenak is Fordham's leading hitter, at a .329, to go along with 8 home runs, 33 runs batted in, and 13 stolen bases.
She has help too. Second baseman Paige Rauch (16), third baseman Skylar Johnston (14), and shortstop Madi Shaw (13) have combined for 43 homers on the season, which is more than any other team in the tournament.
Look for Fordham to make the opposing pitcher work overtime. The Rams have walked 195 times this season, but have also struck out an alarming 344 times.
Both numbers are high, especially the strikeout number.
By contrast, Louisiana hitters have walked 144 times this season, 51 times less than Fordham, while striking out 144 times, 200 fewer than the Rams.
Fordham will steal a base, with 54 stolen bags to their credit, but they really use their speed to their advantage beating out infield singles and going from first-to-third on a single.
They are known as a very good base-running team.
Pitching-wise, the Rams are solid, if unspectacular.
Freshman right-hander Paige Rauch, who hits and pitches, will enter the regional with a record of 14-2, to go along with a 1.55 ERA. She has the best stuff on the staff, and probably matches up best against the other teams in regional.
Sophomore right-hander Madie Aughinbaugh is 16-7 with a 2.75 ERA. She's a pitch to contact pitcher, with only 20 walks in 153 innings pitched.
The problem is, those young ladies will be facing the best hitters they've faced all year this weekend, with the Fordham pitching staff sporting an overall team ERA. of 2.81.
Bridget Orchard, in her 17th year as head coach at Fordham, has done a really nice job, and will have the Rams ready to compete this weekend.
To be truthful, Fordham just doesn’t have the depth or firepower that Louisiana, LSU, or Houston will bring into the regional.
That being said, the Rams won’t be intimidated, having been to numerous NCAA Regionals over the last 8 years.
The three other teams in the regional can’t take Fordham lightly, because while it would be an upset if they won just one game this weekend, they are more than capable of winning that one game.
The complete regional schedule is below:
NCAA BATON ROUGE REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 18, 2018
G1: 3 p.m. – Houston vs. Louisiana
G2: 5:30 p.m. – Fordham vs. LSU
Saturday, May 19, 2018
G3: TBA – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
G4: TBA – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
G5: TBA – Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3
Sunday, May 20, 2018
G6: TBA – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5
G7: TBA – (if necessary) Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6