Sunday, March 30, 2008

Final Four! & Etc.

Box Score

NC State
Four Factors
Turnover Rate23.4
Off Reb Rate38.5
St. John's
Four Factors
Turnover Rate30.7
Off Reb Rate45.9

          Pts   Poss    Off_Eff   Def_Eff
SJU 61 68.5 89.1 92.0
NCSU 63 68.5 92.0 89.1

The Wolfpack will play at Michigan State on Wednesday. Elsewhere...

-- The softball team committed seven errors and handed Virginia an 8-7 win on Sunday. Yikes. Offense wasn't a problem today, but it's been a serious issue for most of this season. After hitting .273/.357/.441 in 2007, the team is hitting .236/.314/.350 in '08. That's a 134-point dip in OPS.

-- It's a similar story for the baseball team: .302/.398/.455 last year, .272/.360/.401 this year. Fortunately the pitching has improved, led most notably by Clayton Shunick. Last season, Shunick pitched much better than his ERA suggested, and so far in 2008, he has improved on his good peripherals despite moving from the bullpen to a starting role:

        ERA      IP     HR/9     H/9     K/9    BB/9   K/BB   BABIP    FIP   
2007 6.15 52.7 0.68 10.2 9.4 3.6 2.6 .359 3.41
2008 2.34 34.7 0.26 8.3 10.1 2.1 4.9 .326 2.19


A pitcher's batting average on balls in play is mostly outside of his control, so when it deviates significantly from the league average BABIP (around .340 in college baseball), that can be fairly attributed to good/bad luck. Shunick's been a little more fortunate (not surprisingly) in this regard so far this season, but that's not the only source of improvement:

The difference in the angle of his arm from one year to the next was acute. In the Cape picture, Shunick’s arm was nearly straight over the top. In the NC State picture, he had dropped down to nearly three-quarters.

“I was like, ‘I need to get back to there,’” Shunick said. “The rest of the summer I really worked on getting my arm angle up to where it used to be and stay on top of the ball. I picked it up towards the end of the summer, got it back up to where it used to be and that just kind of carried over to this year as well. I am staying on top of the ball and it has really helped me stay in control of my secondary pitches.”

That added control is clearly paying dividends.