Gap-to-Gap: Softball's Success at the Plate
The Lions are having one of their best seasons in program history at the plate.
LOS ANGELES - LMU softball can hit the ball. Two-thirds of the way through the 2016 season, the Lions are on pace to match or break some of the best offensive numbers the program has seen, while also ranking among the best in the country this season.
In games played through March 27, the Lions (21-14) rank third in the nation in doubles per game (2.06), 18th in slugging percentage (.529), 22nd in home runs per game (1.14) and 30th in batting average (.322).
“Hitting is one of the hardest things to do in sport so we try to do our job as coaches to make this as simple as possible,” said LMU Assistant Coach Randy Ward. “The pressure on them to be perfect is already there from themselves so we try to give them the tools to eliminate the pressure from being so perfect.”
Compare the numbers to one season ago. Thirty-five games in this year’s 53-game slate, as a team the Lions are hitting .322 (.279 in 2015), have 302 hits (377 hits in 52 games in 2015), 72 doubles (80 in 2015) and 40 home runs (48 in 2015). They are slugging at a .529 clip (.448 in 2015), have drawn 105 walks (143 in 2015) and have an on base percentage of .401 (.361 in 2015).
LMU’s program record for team batting average is .335, set in 56 games in 2004. An LMU team has not hit over .300 since 2008.
LMU’s program record for team slugging percentage is .557, also set in 2004. That season is the only on record where a team slugged over .500.
LMU’s program record for on base percentage is .401, also set in 2004. No team has collected an on base percentage over .400 since.
And how about those doubles? With 18 games remaining, the Lions have 72 doubles, averaging 2.06 per game. In 2007, the Lions pounded out a program record 95 doubles in 65 games, good for 1.46 per game.
“Most of our doubles are not down the lines, they go gap-to-gap,” said senior outfielder Meghan von Behren. “That’s really implemented from practice to the games.”
“We don’t focus too much on home runs or big hits because that just comes from hitting it gap-to-gap,” added junior outfielder Amanda Dirks.
von Behren is having, by far, the best season of her career at the plate. The Manhattan Beach, Calif., native is batting a team-high .442 with 53 hits, 12 doubles, six home runs, a .692 slugging percentage and a .469 on base percentage. Last spring in 46 games played, her final numbers included a .303 average, 33 hits, four doubles, four home runs, a .468 slugging percentage and .339 on base percentage.
In 33 games played so far this season, Dirks is just one double shy of her 2015 total (nine) and has matched her home run total (seven). Her slugging percentage is .616 (up from .589 last year) and is second on the team with 23 RBI.
Check out the LMU Sports Network full feature on the Lions’ hitting philosophy and success this spring here.
And, check out the Lions in action this week as they wrap up non-conference play. The brief slate of action begins Tuesday with a single game at UC Santa Barbara (2 p.m.), followed by a doubleheader against Long Beach State on Wednesday at Smith Field. First pitch for game one is set for noon.
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