SB : Loaded Orange pitching staff dominating after rough start

first_img Comments Published on March 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img When judging a pitching staff, catcher Lacey Kohl has the best view of any player on the diamond. And from what the backstop has seen this season behind the plate, she said this year’s group of hurlers is easily the deepest staff she has worked with in four years at Syracuse.‘Mainly because every single one of them can have the potential to start a game and throw seven innings on their own, and I don’t think we’ve had that in the past,’ Kohl said. ‘Maybe one or two that can do that, but we’ve never had three.’Senior Jenna Caira, junior Stacy Kuwik and freshman Lindsay Taylor have provided pitching depth for a Syracuse (17-8) team that rolled through its competition with a clean sweep of its four games last weekend. While Caira is the clear ace of the staff, Kuwik and Taylor have both been viable second and third options for SU head coach Leigh Ross thus far.Caira already has 13 wins and almost 100 innings under her belt, but the contributions from Kuwik and Taylor certainly can’t be overlooked. Kuwik is an experienced No. 2 pitcher and has an ERA of 3.23. Taylor has pitched well ahead of her years with a 1.34 ERA.But at the start of the season, the pitching staff wasn’t rock solid. In February, Caira was still battling a bout with illness – an illness that gave everyone on the team a scare.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘Jenna (being sick) was kind of like scary for the whole team because she’s been the ace pitcher,’ Taylor said. ‘So I think people were a bit nervous at first, but I think we handled it well.’Once Caira regained her health, the pitching staff really got on track. Taylor thinks the pitching staff is the strongest it has been at this point in the season. Since the start of March, Syracuse has thrown five shutouts and only allowed more than three runs in two games.Caira has not lost a game since Feb. 26, mowing down hitters as Ross expected her to. The head coach said Kuwik has also proven to be one of the best No. 2 pitchers in the country after it took her a little bit to get into her groove.As for Taylor, Ross said she surprised at how well the freshman has come along.‘She’s right away proven that she can handle the innings right now,’ Ross said.What makes the pitchers so lethal is how well the three complement each other. Caira primarily throws off-speed pitches and boasts a devastating changeup. Taylor and Kuwik are power pitchers who have curveballs and rise balls in their repertoire.Caira said it’s a perfect combination. Caira pitches down with a changeup, and Kuwick and Taylor pitch up with a curveball to depend on.Ross said that difference makes it hard for batters to adjust when she goes to the bullpen in the middle of a game.‘If we feel that Jenna’s changeup isn’t being as effective with a team then we can always switch it up and go Lindsay Taylor’s curve and rise,’ Ross said, ‘It just gives you different options.’With a bevy of options at Ross’ disposal, she knows she’s lucky that all the pressure doesn’t rest on the shoulders of Caira to pitch multiple games. And that rest for the ace will pay off later in the season when the games get bigger.And Caira admits while she never feels a burden no matter how often she has to take the circle – for Syracuse to reach College World Series – she can’t be the only dependable arm in SU’s arsenal.And that’s why the senior has zero reservations when she hands the ball over to SU’s two other trusted arms. Caira knows they can both get the job done.‘Being able to know that if I only can go five innings, I never have any doubt in my mind knowing that if Lindsay or Stacy go in there they’re going to do a great job,’ Caira said. ‘They’ve proven themselves over and over again throughout this whole, entire year.’[email protected]last_img