SB : Syracuse holds opportunity to pick up marquee victories at Citrus Classic

first_img Published on February 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm For Leigh Ross and Syracuse, this weekend could define their season.Rather than practicing Wednesday, the SU head coach held a meeting in the academic part of Manley Field House to talk about the team’s goals for this upcoming weekend. But before the meeting even started, Ross knew exactly what she wanted from her team.‘I want them to look at themselves as a Top 25 team,’ Ross said. ‘To know that every single time they step on the field, they should expect to win the game. Period.’Ross wants to see her players lose all fear and overcome any personal obstacles to contribute to the team. And she wants to see that mentality displayed on the field. Although it’s a goal she wants to see extend throughout the entire season, she knows this weekend has to be the start. The Orange (5-5) has another tough stretch of games in the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., taking on No. 24 North Carolina and No. 17 Auburn on Friday in a doubleheader, and then Virginia and No. 15 Michigan. SU ends the five-game weekend Sunday when it takes on No. 11 Baylor.‘I think we as a team have to define who we are,’ Ross said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textStephanie Watts said last weekend the team didn’t take all of its opponents as serious as the Orange needed to. SU lost to unranked Pacific and then to powerhouses No. 14 Arizona and No. 16 UCLA to finish the weekend 2-3.Watts said it is important to consider every opponent as a legitimate threat, regardless of reputation, especially at the start of the season.‘It needs to be first game, each game, every inning, every out,’ Watts said. ‘Make sure we’re focused for every single one of them. Anyone can win on any given day in the beginning of the season because it’s kind of a free-for-all.’A situation Syracuse struggled with in its losses was the lack of clutch hitting with runners on base. Against Pacific, SU left 10 runners on base and against Arizona, the Orange stranded 11 runners on base.A few days later, Watts rolled her eyes, still annoyed by the failure to get those runners home. She said it was probably the one thing that prevented Syracuse from having a bigger weekend.With the talented lineup Syracuse has, Watts said the team has to start hitting to its capability to challenge tougher competition and take care of weaker opponents.‘We obviously have to score our runs if we plan on winning games against big teams,’ Watts said. ‘We didn’t do it, and we didn’t win, so it’s obviously a direct effect.’Morgan Nandin was one of the players to leave the bases full, but she said the only thing to do is get over the deflating out.‘It’s always frustrating when you can’t knock someone in,’ Nandin said. ‘But you just can’t dwell on it. Forget about that at bat and move on to the next at bat and hit them in the next one.’Ross said she isn’t worried about the team’s inability to push runners across yet. With the lineup continuously changing early this season, Ross said she’s still looking to place players in the right spots.‘I think that’s tough,’ Ross said. ‘You don’t know who’s going to be a clutch kid until you get into that situation, so I think we’re still trying to find those kids who are going to step up when the opportunity arises.’And with 13 or 14 players capable of cracking that starting nine, it makes Ross’ job that much tougher.Syracuse wants to prove to the nation that it’s a Top 25 team, but without improved clutch hitting, that might not be so easy to accomplish.Watts said it doesn’t matter how Syracuse does it. It needs to plate those runners in scoring position, and it needs to start this weekend.‘Make sure we’re scoring that run,’ Watts said. ‘That’s definitely one of our goals.’[email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more