The Boston University softball team had no trouble with Stony Brook University last season, outscoring the Seawolves 32-3 and forcing the NCAA mercy rule to be invoked in each of the three BU victories.
Stony Brook has improved greatly this year, however, and is only three wins shy of its total of 20 achieved last year. Tied with BU (19-9, 3-0 America East) atop the America East standings after sweeping its opponents in the opening weekend of conference play, the Seawolves (17-6, 3-0 America East) will seek payback at the BU Softball Field in a doubleheader on Saturday before playing the series finale on Sunday.
“[The Seawolves] are a much different team this year, there’s no doubt about it,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik. “But we’re a different team too. We had six freshman last year, and now we have sophomores . . . so that means that it will probably be a pretty good game.”
The past week produced three different America East honorees from these two teams.
BU junior Erin Schuppert was named the Pitcher of the Week by the conference after she shutout Binghamton University in a two-hit complete-game effort. Schuppert has a 3-3 record on the season.
For Stony Brook, America East recognized senior Lauren Maloney and freshman Shayla Giosia as Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively, for their offensive performances. Maloney batted .625 over the team’s five games, while Giosia racked up three home runs and eight RBIs.
Limiting the offensive production of the Seawolves will be a primary goal for the Terriers over the course of the series. Led by Giosia, who is batting .366 on the season, Stony Brook maintains a team batting average of .300. Giosia also leads America East in RBIs with 20.
Rychcik remains confident in his pitching staff and its ability to slow the Seawolves’ bats, and he feels as if taking a relaxed approach toward the weekend’s rotation will be the most productive.
“We’ll start out on Saturday and see who is ready to go and who we feel confident in,” Rychcik said. “We’ll see what [Stony Brook] swing[s] the bats like and kind of make the adjustment from there.”
Sophomore Holli Floetker is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of conference pitchers. With a record of 12-2, she is the only pitcher with wins that reach into the double-digits. Floetker has also held her opponents to a .226 batting average while maintaining a 1.88 ERA.
Junior Whitney Tuthill and her 2.60 ERA have also performed favorably for the Terriers this season, earning four wins in her eight starts.
The Terriers’ offense, while extremely effective thus far, is not quite at the level of that of their upcoming opponents’. While Stony Brook has six players who are batting above the .300 mark, BU only has three. However, this could be partly explained by the fact that BU has played five more games than Stony Brook.
Sophomore outfielder Jayme Mask currently leads the Terriers with a .361 batting average – a number just high enough to place her in the top five of the conference. Fellow sophomore catcher Amy Ekart leads the team in home runs (five) and in RBIs (19).
Despite Rychcik’s acknowledgment of the importance of this weekend’s series, he prefers not to get ahead of the team’s schedule and to focus on the individual matchups.
“A lot of movement is going to happen in the standings after this weekend depending on who does what,” Rychcik said.
“You can’t win games ahead of the first one . . . so it’ll be one game at a time.”