DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils have gotten off to a successful start in their 2018 fall slate, reeling off four victories in their first five games. With a trio of games left for Team Two, it’s time to take a look at the season so far and what lies ahead for Duke softball.
The Blue Devils are 4-1 so far this fall, picking up three wins at home and one on the road. After opening the season with a doubleheader sweep of Appalachian State, Duke suffered an 8-5 setback at UNCG. However, the Blue Devils bounced back with a 9-2 win at Elon followed by a 12-2 victory against NC Central on Tuesday.
Sunday, Sept. 23
Duke def. Appalachian State, 4-2
Duke def. Appalachian State, 4-0
Saturday, Sept. 29
UNCG def. Duke, 8-5
Thursday, Oct. 4
Duke def. Elon, 9-2
Tuesday, Oct. 9
Duke def. NC Central, 12-2
Saturday, Oct. 13
Duke vs. Longwood – 12:45 p.m. ET
Duke vs. East Carolina – 3:30 p.m. ET
Duke Softball Stadium
Saturday, Oct. 20
Duke vs. NC State – TBA
Duke Softball Stadium
Blue Devils Open Fall With Sweep Of Appalachian State…
It was a solid start to the fall for Team Two, as they opened with a pair of victories at home against the Mountaineers. Shelby Walters threw five innings and allowed just one run, while Brianna Butler picked up the save in the 4-2 game one win. Kristina Foreman got things started with a two-run double in the first, while Jameson Kavel turned in two hits with one run driven in. Game two featured a combined shutouts from Amelia Wiercioch, Peyton St. George and Kylie Coffelt, as Duke won 4-0. Wiercioch, Foreman and Caroline Jacobsen drove in runs in the winning effort.
Duke Dominate From Start To Finish In Win At Elon…
The Blue Devil offense turned in one of its most complete performances during their 9-2 victory at Elon to close out their fall road schedule. Triples from Deja Davis and Jameson Kavel got things started in the first, giving Duke a 3-0 lead out of the gate. Duke tacked on three more in the fourth to make it 6-0 thanks to the hot hitting of Kyla Morris, Dominique Salinas and Marissa Gagliano.
Duke put three more on the board with runs in the fifth and ninth to round the win.
Offense Explodes For 12-2 Win Versus NC Central…
After a quiet showing in the first five innings, the Blue Devils unleashed six runs in the sixth to jumpstart a 12-2 victory against their cross-town foes from NC Central.
Amelia Wiercioch earned the start in the circle, posting a three up, three down first inning before using a pair of strikeouts in the second to keep it a scoreless affair. Brianna Butler tossed a scoreless fourth and Peyton St. George struck out the side in the sixth to highlight Duke’s efforts in the circle.
Marissa Gagliano scored the game’s first run thanks to some skilled baserunning and a wild throw from NCCU. Kristina Foreman, Jameson Kavel, St. George and Haley Wymbs drove in the other five runs to make it 6-2 after six. Duke would bring home three more runs in the seventh and a Deja Davis two-run double in the eighth made it a nine-run contest.
Explosive Offense Highlights Fall Season So Far…
If there’s one thing that can be gleamed from looking at the 2018 Duke softball fall schedule so far, it’s the offensive prowess of the program. Through five games the Blue Devils have recorded 34 runs, scoring at least four in all contests. Duke’s most recent performance was its best offensive output to date, a 12- victory against NC Central.
“Offensively, we’re scoring a lot of runs and hitting the ball hard and that’s exciting to see,” head coach Marissa Young said. “It took us a while to get going compared to last year, but our offensive performance these last two games especially has been impressive. That’s a bright spot for sure so far this fall.”
Fall Season A Major Help For New Blue Devils…
There are a total of eight new players, including seven freshmen, making their Blue Devil debut this fall. For head coach Marissa Young, there’s no better time than the fall season to get the new faces adjusted to the collegiate game.
“It’s huge,” Young said. “We're able to put them in pressure situations or ask them to do some things that are maybe out of their comfort zone just to see how they are going to respond. That’s what we’re looking for, just to grow them by challenging them.”
One of those challenges came in Duke’s 12-2 victory against NC Central, when Kristina Foreman stepped up for her third at-bat of the game delivered in the clutch with runners in scoring position. It’s moments like those that Young has been emphasizing when it comes to the growth of the rookies.
The Little Things….
With three games left in the fall, Young has put a major emphasis with her players on paying attention to all details of the game, both big and small.
“I want to see them pay attention to the details, no matter whether we’re up or down,” Young said. “At times when we get big leads, we let some little things slip. I want to see them pay attention to those little things all the way through.”
Duke will have three more chances this fall to work on their game, facing Longwood and East Carolina in in a doubleheader this Saturday at the Duke Softball Stadium, starting at 12:45 p.m. The fall season concludes on Saturday, Oct. 20 against ACC foe NC State. First pitch is still to be determined.
Comparing 2017 To 2018…
There’s a lot of differences when it comes to last fall and this season. In 2017, the Blue Devils were taking the field for the first time as a program, opening a brand new stadium and working with a team that consisted of a number of players that had never played in a collegiate game. Fast forward to 2018 and the Blue Devils have more experience, including three seniors, and are focused solely on the wins and losses.
“We have an identity this year where last year we were trying to figure out what that was going to be,” Young said.
The returning experience is one of the biggest assets for the Blue Devils. With seven freshmen learning the ropes this fall, having a crew of 14 returners along with graduate transfer Marissa Gagliano, is added help to the Blue Devil coaching staff.
“It’s great to have some returners back that can set the tone and can coach up the new kids,” Young said.
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