Potent MU offense backs up RedHawk pitching
By MIKE SMITH
It's certainly a bit of trivia, but Friday's Miami vs Kentucky game will include two of the nation's top players in one offensive category -- walks.
Erin Coffel, a junior Wildcat, leads the country with 1.22 walks per game. Right behind her at No. 2 is Miami senior outfielder Allie Cummins. She averaged .96 walks per game prior to NCAA tournament play.
Coffel is also No. 1 in another category -- on base percentage (.626). Cummins, a senior, is tied for 35th with a .500 on base percentage. Both are outstanding marks, especially considering the thousands of players involved in NCAA Division I softball.
Like all leadoff hitters, Cummins . . .
. . . is well aware of just how important the top spot is. "I know my role. My role is to get on base and let them score me," she told mro-plus.com shortly after MU's MAC Tournament title-clinching win over Ohio.
"She's got a great eye," Miami head coach Kirin Kumar said recently, adding, "Her on-base percentage is really high. That's why she's up there (leading off)."
In addition to drawing plenty of walks, Cummins is third among the RedHawks in batting average (.324) and fourth in slugging percentage .738.
"I just like to find pitches that I know I can drive," she said. "For me, selection is everything. I know what pitches I can hit, and I know what pitches I struggle with, so I try to attack the ones I can early. If I don't like them, I just leave them ... I'm not afraid to hit with two (strikes). It's a count that I am comfortable with."
Opponents know that there is more trouble coming after Cummins, as the RedHawks are second (behind No. 1 Oklahoma) in slugging percentage (.582) and third in home runs (91 total, 1.65 per game).
Individually, Jennie Golembiewski (.821) and Karli Spaid (.778) are among the national leaders in slugging percentage. Four RedHawks, including Cummins, blasted at least 14 homers in 2023. Spaid led the way with 21, followed by Golembiewski (17), Cummins (17) and Riley Coyne (14).
Given MU's offensive firepower and the pitching of ace Brianna Pratt, Cummins noted the RedHawks are seldom out of a game.
"Our job is just to back (up Brianna) to the best of our abilities," she said. "We're going to fight until that last out is made."
Asked about the upcoming NCAA tournament challenge, Cummins said, "I can't wait. I'm ready to get started."
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.