Syracuse survives inconsistent performance from Sophie Dandola

first_imgSophie Dandola was in the midst of her fifth meeting in the pitcher’s circle in the third inning alone. Some were just Dandola and catcher Gianna Carideo, another time Miranda Kramer walked to the mound in her blue jacket, attempting to calm down the flustered Dandola. But by her fifth visit, her smile was wiped away. Syracuse (12-18, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) won both of its games on Wednesday over Niagara (1-14), 12-4 (5 innings) and 7-5. Yet Dandola, who has been an important second starter at pitcher this season, struggled with her control and emotions in the Orange’s home-opener. As a starter in the second game, she pitched 4.1 innings, allowing six hits and four walks. She was relieved by Miranda Hearn in the fifth inning and allowed five total runs, three earned. “I could have done better in a lot of areas,” Dandola said. “It was not my strongest outing, I didn’t have control of my pitches.”Dandola tries to keep herself motivated with “self-talks” in the circle. Sometimes, it’s riling herself up after a big strikeout, as she did in the second inning when she struck out Madison Rastello swinging on a changeup. Dandola had allowed a run in the previous at-bat, but she tried to hype herself up afterward. “When she goes from 0 to 100 with her emotions, she tends to not pitch that well,” SU head coach Shannon Doepking said. “The mound visits are to prevent that.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOther times, Doepking and Dandola said, Dandola lets her emotions take over. In the third inning, prior to any coaches’ visits to the circle, Carideo tried to calm her down. Dandola ran deep counts to the first four batters in the inning, falling behind to the first three of them quickly.Dandola’s strength is pitching to ground balls, Doepking said, which usually works well for SU except on Wednesday, when Niagara “booted it (the ball) all over the field.” The Orange made three infield errors that extended innings and made Dandola’s performance more difficult to get out of. After a strikeout to start the third, Dandola walked Kelsey Harrigan on just five pitches. As the Niagara dugout chanted, “Three balls, three balls, three balls” to try to get into Dandola’s head when the count was 3-1, Carideo stepped out in front of the plate a few times on the toss back to Dandola, trying to help her regain control. It didn’t work at first. Harrigan advanced to second on a passed ball early in the count to the next hitter. That at-bat resulted in a ground out to Dandola, who looked off the runner at second before firing to first. The next ball hit to her, though, she made an errant throw past first baseman Alex Acevedo and Harrigan came around to score.Then came another mound visit.“I’m kind of just like doubting myself, trying to stay calm,” Dandola said. “Trying to keep my thoughts in check. I think about the good or bad moments, it changes your mental state.”After the second mound visit, Dandola high-fived every one of her infielders. At 3-2, she got ahead of the fourth hitter in the inning with a first-pitch strike. Dandola did exactly what she wanted to do, force a ground ball, but Anya Gonzalez made a throwing error from shortstop. An unearned run scored, and the game was tied at three. Next, another walk as Dandola started to unfold. She wasn’t giving out high-fives anymore. She focused in and struck out Jennifer Timm. The next inning, a relatively stress-free inning, boosted her confidence, Dandola said. In the fifth, Dandola’s lack of control ended her night early. A walk, a passed ball, another walk and a single loaded the bases. After a second single brought a run in, Doepking turned to Hearn to get out of the jam.With inconsistency from ace Alexa Romero and Dandola, Hearn closed out Syracuse’s second-straight win with no runs in the middle innings. Even though Syracuse got by because of its pitching depth Wednesday, Doepking said Dandola has to manage her emotions better in the future. “I think Sophie, there is a lot of growing taking place with her,” Doepking said. “She’s super competitive and super hard on herself, if we can get her to chill a little bit to be honest she’ll be effective.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 27, 2019 at 11:16 pm Contact Anthony: [email protected]last_img

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