SB : Caira shines in SU’s weekend sweep of Villanova

first_imgJenna Caira was perfect through four innings. But suddenly she was in trouble after giving up a walk and a single to start the fifth inning of the opening game of the series Saturday against Villanova. Then with one out, second baseman Stephanie Watts dropped a fly ball in shallow right field that allowed a runner to advance to third base.Watts got the force out at second. But with runners on first and third, Caira still needed one more out to end the inning with the score tied at zero. Caira struck out the next batter swinging, blowing her away with a rise ball.‘I was trying to really utilize my rise ball,’ Caira said. ‘It’s a pitch that I’ve been trying to work on for a really long time, and I felt that in order to get to that next level, I need to throw that pitch more.’Caira used all of her pitches well this weekend to lead Syracuse (29-10, 8-5 Big East) to a three-game sweep of Villanova. The Orange never trailed the Wildcats en route to winning 2-0 and 10-1 on Saturday and 6-0 on Sunday. Caira earned all three wins and held Villanova to one run and five hits in 16 innings.Syracuse needed Caira at her best in the first game as the Orange managed just one hit through four innings. After Caira’s big strikeout in the fifth, the team finally broke through to score.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWatts led off the fifth inning with a drag bunt single and advanced to third base on a line drive down the right field line by Lacey Kohl. Shirley Daniels pinch ran for Kohl and forced the Villanova catcher to throw the ball into center field on a steal attempt.Watts scored easily on the overthrow to give SU the lead. Jasmine Watson added a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, but Caira only needed one run of support. She pitched a perfect sixth and got out of another first-and-third situation in the seventh to finish the complete-game shutout.The dominant performance set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Caira carried a no-hitter through three innings in the second game Saturday and was never threatened by the Villanova lineup. The SU ace said she had to stay focused after each win, even though the Wildcat hitters didn’t pose much of a problem.‘I can’t let up,’ Caira said. ‘And if I’m able to keep that type of momentum for myself, that’s going to carry through to the rest of the team.’Her teammates were sharp in the field and gave her run support in the final two games of the sweep. But it all started and ended with Caira in the circle.Caira said she used the cold and windy weather to her advantage this weekend. The pitcher made the opposing hitters uncomfortable by jamming them with fastballs on the inside corner.Kohl, Syracuse’s catcher, said Caira did a good job mixing her pitches and spots to keep hitters off balance. And by jamming the hitters, Caira gained a mental edge.‘If they foul one off and get one off the foot or they jam themselves, it stings for a while,’ Kohl said. ‘So just jam them hard to get inside because they’re least likely to swing at it again.’Kohl said Caira also used her power pitches inside to finish off hitters after setting them up with changeups. The changeup slows the batters’ reaction, making it hard to get around on a fastball on the inside corner, Kohl said.Center fielder Veronica Grant said it was good to see the pitching staff recover after a tough outing against Notre Dame the previous weekend.‘I think it was important for them to bounce back and have the reassurance that they could come back and stay strong,’ Grant said. ‘Knowing that they could come back and hold teams to zero (runs) like we used to.’Caira baffled the opposing hitters all weekend, leaving Villanova’s hitters helpless at times — striking out looking and on check swings. The Wildcats never figured Caira out, despite seeing her in all three games.The pitcher credits her catcher for making sure the hitters always saw something different every at bat.Said Kohl: ‘Just kind of keeping them off balance and guessing and not knowing what’s going to come next.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on April 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected]last_img

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