Record-breakers Grant, Daniels provide SU with new gameplan on base paths

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on May 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjrcenter_img Lisaira Daniels stole third base against Louisville on April 21. But unlike all the other bases she’s stolen this season, this time the swipe didn’t leave Syracuse head coach Leigh Ross too happy.A bit anxious, the sophomore thought that a certain pitch was ball four and hustled her way down to third base. But her count was wrong. Luckily, she made it in safely.‘I got on the base and I was like, ‘I’m sorry,” Daniels said.There was no reason to be sorry the other 27 times Daniels has stolen a base this season. Daniels, with 28 stolen bases, and Veronica Grant, who has 25 swipes, are part of Syracuse’s game plan to pressure the other team on the base paths. Daniels and Grant hold the top two spots in stolen bases in the Big East this year.Looking to use that to its advantage, the Orange (28-21, 10-8 Big East) will travel to Canisius (30-15, 12-2 MAAC) Tuesday for a doubleheader. It is SU’s last set of nonconference games in the regular season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBoth Daniels and Grant have surpassed the SU single-season stolen base record of 20, set by their teammate Stephanie Watts last season. Watts is third on the team, with 10 stolen bases this season. She recently moved into the leadoff spot in the batting order, with Grant and Daniels right behind her in the order.That all adds up to one thing: a lot of speed for Ross to play with.‘It’s like we have three leadoff hitters,’ Ross said. ‘I’m able to steal with (Watts), too. She’s fast.’The speed that the Orange has did not get to Syracuse by coincidence. It was a conscious effort on the recruiting trail by Ross to make the Orange dangerous on the bases. Watts is a sophomore in her second year on the Orange. Daniels, a transfer, and Grant, a freshman, are both in their first years with Syracuse. Next season’s recruiting class includes two more burners, Shirley Daniels (Lisaira’s sister) and Kealy McMullen.‘We went for a while with power, and we were like, ‘Let’s get the power numbers back up but have a good mix of speed,” Ross said. ‘There’s speed and there’s ‘real’ speed. I think we’ve got some ‘real’ speed.’For Daniels and Grant, breaking the stolen base record has turned into a friendly competition. Early in the season it was Grant in the lead. In SU’s five early-season tournaments, Grant had 15 stolen bases while Daniels had 12. Since then, Daniels has held a 16-10 advantage to take the lead.It isn’t like Grant has struggled though.‘I hit too many doubles,’ joked Grant, who stole one base in SU’s most recent doubleheader at Pittsburgh.The speed has translated into wins for the Orange as well. Syracuse is 5-1 when both Daniels and Grant steal a base in the same game. It was on full display in a doubleheader against Penn State on April 27. Daniels, Grant and Watts combined to steal seven bases in two games.The Orange jumped on the Nittany Lions early in those games as well. In the first inning of game two, Watts reached base and stole second. After a Grant double, she advanced to third on a wild pitch. Daniels walked and stole second. SU scored two runs in that first inning, leading to a 6-1 win. The aggressive base running from the start of the game was the reason for the Syracuse win.‘Just to see (opposing catchers) throw and putting the pressure on them early is important,’ Ross said.As for Daniels’ blunder-turned-successful steal of third at Louisville, it will turn into a teaching point down the road for Ross. While that steal was not a smart move, Ross thinks that Daniels and Grant will soon be able to steal on their own rather than waiting for her sign.The prospect that Daniels and Grant will have the green light to steal whenever they see fit could be a scary thought for the rest of the Big East. Already at the top of the league in stolen bases, letting them run free may make the Orange running game even tougher to control.Said Daniels: ‘We got a couple more years left. You never know what’s going to happen.’mcooperj@syr.edulast_img

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