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Syracuse’s Bryce Holmgren is getting on base partially thanks to 12 hit by pitches

first_imgWhen Bryce Holmgren was hit by a Jessica Dreswick fastball earlier this season against Boston College, there was no fanfare, no display of pain or anguish.She tossed her bat toward Syracuse’s home dugout, spun on her heel and jogged to first base. It was nothing new for the Roland, Iowa, native, who leads the team with 12 hit by pitches.Holmgren paces Syracuse (18-17, 4-10 Atlantic Coast) in nearly every offensive category — first in hits (43), batting average (.434) and runs batted in (25) — and is the only player on the Orange to total more walks (20) than strikeouts (15). Part of the reason she is so adept at getting on base, Holmgren said, has been her patience in the batter’s box. It’s also led to her hit-by-pitch habit.“I try not to lean in, but also it just kind of happens,” Holmgren said. “Things in softball just happen so fast, you don’t really think too much about it. I just try to let it hit me.”After leading the team in hit by pitches last season with 11, Holmgren wasted no time in grabbing the team-lead this year, too. After getting plunked in six of the first nine games of the season, Holmgren started the year on base a lot, whether it was by choice or not.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGetting hit by pitches is a relatively new trend for Holmgren, who said that she didn’t get hit a lot when she was younger. Even at Western Kentucky as a freshman in 2016, Holmgren was hit three times in 45 games. Only when she arrived at Syracuse did she start to get hit more. With 23 hit by pitches in 85 career games at SU, she’s developed a knack for reaching base unconventionally.Holmgren believes that her tendency to get hit stems from a few factors. As a left-handed batter, she said her right elbow at times hangs close to or over the plate when she’s in the box. Like Dreswick, most pitchers are right-handed. Holmgren often faces pitches on the inner-half of the plate to crowd her and sometimes pitchers lose control. Holmgren’s willingness to “take one for the team” is another factor that sets her apart in her propensity to get hit.“I wouldn’t consider it unlucky, I would consider it lucky,” head coach Mike Bosch said. “Honestly, we just want to get on base any way.”Holmgren’s consistency in reaching base was clear earlier this season when she broke the program record for consecutive games reaching base. Holmgren’s streak of 46 broke the previous record of 32 and has since ended, but the WKU-transfer has already begun a new one, reaching base in eight-consecutive games.Teammate Alicia Hansen has played 138 games for the Orange but has been hit by a pitch just once in her career. The reason, Hansen said, is because she’s “more inclined” than her teammates to move out of the way of pitches.“Bryce will stick her arm out for it,” Hansen said. “It’s funny, because sometimes she’ll get hit and the umpire will call her back, and then she’ll get a hit, and the joke’s on you. You should want her to just get walked because you might be giving up extra bases if you pull her back.”With the Syracuse offense struggling to find consistent sources of power and contact hitting alike, Holmgren has been the lone source of consistency throughout the season. Her batting average has dipped slightly since beginning the year, but her on-base percentage still leads the conference.Holmgren has remained steady getting on base all season long, even if it’s not in the most conventional way.“One of our mottos is ‘find a way,’ so if you’re up, find a way on,” Hansen said. “No matter whether you bunt, get hit by a pitch, dropped third strike … taking one for the team sure, because it’s a baserunner that could mean a lot.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 10, 2018 at 7:43 am Contact Eric: erblack@syr.edu | @esblack34last_img read more