The major league season has just kicked off , but William and Mary is nearing the homestretch of its 2012 campaign with a one-game hold on the final playoff spot in the CAA. With 12 conference games remaining — 16 games left overall — before the CAA Tournament, we break down the year that has been so far and what’s still to come as the Tribe attempts to make a post-season push.
Home is where the heart is
Plumeri Park has been kind to head coach Frank Leoni’s squad this season, but the team’s play hasn’t travelled well. The Tribe holds a 16-6 record at home but is just 8-10 on the road. Some of that can definitely be attributed to the way non-conference schedules are typically organized, in which the team of lower stature usually travels — contrast the Tribe’s four-game home sweep of the New York Insititute of Technology with the way it dropped three straight in Gainesville against Florida. The College will have to find a way to win on the road with its last series of the year coming at second-place Hofstra and the CAA Tournament being held in Harrisonburg.
Fans who don’t have the time for all nine and like to beat the traffic love this Tribe team. A late College lead has been good as gold all year, thanks in large part to junior closer John Farrell, who boasts a 1.71 ERA, 24 strikeouts to just seven walks, and leads the team with seven saves. The Tribe has an outstanding 22-2 record when leading after six innings and has lost just one game all season when leading through seven.
Power on the corners
When opponents scout the Tribe, their attention undoubtedly turns to the men on the corners. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Lindemuth has been knocking the cover off the ball all season, with a team-leading .358 AVG — good for eighth in the conference — an outstanding .459 OBP, four home runs and 33 RBIs, a total only second to freshman first baseman Michael Katz. Slotted in the clean-up spot from opening day, Leoni has asked a lot of the rookie and he hasn’t disappointed, slugging his way to team-highs in home runs (8) and RBIs (42) while posting an impressive .311 AVG and a .534 SLG. He’ll have plenty of time to do so, but Katz could learn to develop more patience at the plate, having walked just 18 times with a .379 OBP — a number that becomes less impressive when considering his high average.
It’s all in the rotation
Anchored by senior righty Matt Davenport, the College features perhaps the best pitching staff in the conference. Davenport’s been lights-out all year, with a 1.80 ERA and an incredible .787 WHIP, but he’s hardly alone in that regard. The team’s 2.90 ERA is the lowest in the CAA and opponents’s .232 AVG against the Tribe is also the lowest number in the CAA.
Not quite elite
On paper, the College looks like it should be among the best in the conference in terms of record. But after nearing the peak on a few different occasions, the Tribe has been unable to truly get over the hump and position itself alongside the CAA’s elite ballclubs. Back in early April, the Tribe was rolling along on a four-game win streak — having recently taken two of three from fifth-placed Towson — entering a three-game homeset with Delaware, to whom the Tribe was tied in the standings. But the College has struggled to pull out close games all season — it’s 4-8 in one-run games and 1-3 in two-run games — and Delaware was no different, as the Blue Hens snatched two of three from the Tribe, 16-14 and 7-6. Then, just last weekend, the team fell in two of three to Georgia State, losing both games by just one run.
The Tribe’s positioning could be drastically different when the regular season is said in done. Of its remaining four conference series, two will be against the top two squads in the league — May 10-12 at home against UNC-Wilmington and the season-ending road series with Hofstra. The College is within just two games of third-place George Mason, so plenty remains up for grabs, but those two series in particular will tell us exactly where this Tribe squad will — and should — stand.