SB : Syracuse’s stellar pitching sets tone in sweep of Pittsburgh

first_img Comments Jenna Caira finally felt comfortable in the circle. For the first time in a few weeks, the senior ace was loose.It showed with the brilliant performance she notched Wednesday.‘I felt very confident. I felt loose,’ Caira said. ‘I had a lot of trust in my ability and knowing that the people behind me were going to just help me out. I’m just trying to take off the pressure on myself. Just allowing my team to help and not go in there and do it all by myself.’Relaxed and ready, Caira set the tone for stellar pitching when the Orange (32-10, 9-2 Big East) topped Pittsburgh (23-21, 6-10 Big East) in both games of a doubleheader at Skytop Softball Stadium on Wednesday in front of 103 and 137 home fans in each game, respectively. Caira and junior Stacy Kuwik shut down Pittsburgh’s hitters, combining to go 13 innings without allowing a single earned run. Caira picked up her 20th win of the season in an 8-0 mercy-rule win in the front end of the twin bill. Kuwik carried the strong pitching in game two, picking up her 10th victory in a 4-1 Orange win.Though Kuwik had been the one on a roll lately, with Caira laboring at points, this time the roles were reversed. Caira made it seem effortless against the Panthers.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCaira showed she had extra bite with her drop ball and changeup right away, retiring the first 10 batters in order. The first hit she allowed was a slow roller that second baseman Stephanie Watts couldn’t throw to first base in time in a close play.Caira finished with nine strikeouts in her six innings of work. Most Pitt batters never seemed to be in rhythm. Many of them were out in front of Caira’s finesse pitches.‘That’s the kind of pitcher I am. I’m not an overpowering strikeout pitcher,’ Caira said. ‘I’m more of a keep the batters off balance and get the routine groundballs.’For last couple of weeks, Caira tinkered with her mechanics. In this start, everything came together for a full game.The Panthers’ hitters were simply overmatched. And when Kuwik took the ball for the second game, she matched that efficiency in the beginningThe hard-throwing righty struck out seven in her first three innings. She didn’t hit a speed bump until the defense behind her unraveled temporarily.After a Pittsburgh walk, Yvette Bravo hit a fly ball to right field that sophomore Shirley Daniels dropped. Daniels subsequently threw the ball into SU dugout on the throw into the infield, allowing a run to score.The only run the Panthers managed wasn’t earned. From there, Kuwik remained poised and retired the next two batters to strand a runner at third.‘I knew they scored, but I’ve been in tougher situations,’ Kuwik said.Kuwik also showed no panic when Pittsburgh had two runners in scoring position with the tying run at the plate in the seventh. Kuwik got the next hitter to fly out to shallow right, then knocked down a comebacker and flung the ball toward first just in time for the final out.In that moment, SU head coach Leigh Ross could catch her breath.‘I was holding my breath on that one,’ Ross said. ‘Because I was just like, ‘Let’s just get this over with.”Even though both pitchers produced, it came in different ways. Caira never got herself into much trouble, allowing two weak hits. Kuwik, on the other hand, labored at points, allowing four hits and walking a couple of batters for a pitcher that usually has pinpoint control.As long as both continue to slow down opposing offenses, Caira knows the duo will keep making lives difficult for those batters at the plate.‘I think we’re all on the same page in terms of getting zeroes across the board,’ Caira said. ‘Like we don’t want anyone scoring.’[email protected] Published on April 18, 2012 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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