UCCS Drops Pair to Mesa

By Doug Fitzgerald published March 19, 2005

Forget national and regional rankings. After getting swept in Saturdayâ€TMs doubleheader by the Mesa State Mavericks, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will have to scramble to achieve a far more humble goal; to qualify for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs.

Crystal Ventimiglia pitched 10 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run and Tiffany Moses went 3-for-6 with five RBIs, including a walk-off homer in Game 2, as the Mavericks defeated the Mountain Lions 6-0 and 5-3. Ventimiglia was credited with the win in both games.

Ventimiglia threw a seven-inning shutout in Game 1, then came back to earn the win in relief in Game 2 thanks to Mosesâ€TM shot in the bottom of the seventh.

The losses overshadowed what had been a sterling pitching effort by Amanda Ritchie. The junior pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the first game, then allowed three runs, only one earned, over the first six innings of the second game.

Lindsay Shandera was UCCSâ€TM most consistent hitter, going 3-for-6 with two RBIs.

The Losses dropped UCCS to 5-7, 4-5 in the RMAC. Pending the results of other conference games on Saturday, the Mountain Lions are somewhere between fifth and eighth in the RMAC. Only six teams qualify for the playoffs.

And while itâ€TMs far too early in the season to pay any real heed to the conference standings, the Mountain Lionsâ€TM fall from a preseason No. 7 national ranking to somewhere among the also-rans in the RMAC points to a team that has underachieved during the seasonâ€TMs first few weeks. Since these are the same players that earned a No. 10 ranking last season and the same players that utterly dominated opponents during fall play, the question “why?” has caused coach Scott Peterson more that a few sleepless nights.

“Weâ€TMre just not hitting with runners on,” said Peterson, pointing out that UCCS stranded 17 baserunners Saturday. “Somebodyâ€TMs got to step up and drive runs in.”

The lack of clutch hitting has certainly been a problem. The Mountain Lions are hitting just .174 with the bases loaded and have been outscored 31-17 in two-out RBIs. Another problem has been the defense.

“Weâ€TMre giving away too many outs,” said Peterson. “Our goal is always to get 21 outs and right now weâ€TMve been giving them 24 or 25 outs a game. No matter who you play, theyâ€TMre going to beat you with that.”

The Mountain Lions have committed 20 errors, or 1.67 per game. Last year, they committed less that 1.15 errors per game. In addition, they have been unable to come up with the clutch defensive play that had been counted upon previously.

The pitching has also struggled. A staggering 43.2 percent of opposing leadoff hitters have reached base. Opponents are also hitting .327 with runners in scoring position and .302 with two outs.

But struggles in hitting, fielding and pitching are more indications of “what” has been happening rather that “why.” Why is a much more elusive target.

“Sometimes I think weâ€TMre pressing too hard,” said senior pitcher Amber Colton. “We want to show everybody that we are that good. Weâ€TMre not having fun, and thatâ€TMs where weâ€TMre really putting the pressure on ourselves.”

For now, thatâ€TMs as good a “why” as any.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PSo.
Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PJr.
Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PSr.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera20IF/OFFr.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera201BSo.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera201BJr.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera201BSr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
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