Following a fast start to the season, the Duhawks have struggled on the diamond as of late.
They have dropped nine out of their last 10 games, as of Tuesday, bringing their record to 13-13 overall and 7-9 in Iowa Conference play. The Duhawks now find themselves at third in the conference after leading the IIAC earlier this month.
During their slump, the Duhawks had to face the top two teams in the conference: Wartburg and Coe. Wartburg now is ranked No. 20 in NCAA Division III, while Coe has received points in the polling.
“We just went through a stretch of the top two teams in the conference,” said Coach Carl Tebon. “You look at the series this past weekend, and we’re right there in every game. That’s the tough part. It’s one mistake in key situations that costs us the game.”
Loras lost four in a row to Wartburg, then rebounded to split a two-game series with the University of Dubuque, winning the first game, 1-0, and losing the second, 4-0. The Duhawks then faced Coe in a four-game series, and dropped four close ballgames by the scores of 1-4, 2-3, 0-1 and 2-5.
The Duhawks’ pitching has been stellar. Loras remains first in the conference in earned-run average and last in the conference in batting average.
But Tebon said the team’s batting average doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to offense. He prefers to look at quality at-bats. Nonetheless the Duhawks have been struggling in that area as well.
“I think we’re facing very good pitching in this stretch,” said Tebon. “When we lose a one run game, we’re not getting our (sacrifice) bunts down. We’re not executing in every situation with the bat. But the pitchers have something to do with that, too. If there’s one thing that I always tell the guys, it’s that if we can score some runs with our pitching staff — the way it’s performing — we’re going to be fine. Hopefully we can start doing that.”
Tebon focuses on what the Duhawks need to do to get back on track and finish out the season strong.
“I think the big thing is to get back out there and continue to practice,” Tebon said. “That’s probably been the tough thing; we haven’t been able to practice. I think we’ve only been able to practice on our field one time this season. We’ve had more games than practices on our field. But that’s something that all teams are going through. We just need to execute and meet the challenge and hopefully our stretch run will get us into the tournament.”
In order to reach the postseason tournament, the Duhawks will need to finish in the top six in the conference. After a game against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Loras will play a four-game series at Luther, two games against UD and a four-game series at home against Buena Vista.