NCAA, Softball, Sports

Terriers to face Ivy League opponent in mid-week contest

With only one day off after a weekend series with conference rival University at Albany, the Boston University softball team will take on local rival Harvard University Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s not a break in the schedule by any means,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik. “It’s just an opportunity to play different competition.”

After sweeping Albany on the first day of the weekend series, the Terriers (24-13, 8-3 America East) dropped the second game 6-4, despite leading 4-1 in the top of the seventh. The Terriers could not hold onto their lead as the Great Danes pulled together a five-run rally.

BU last played Harvard (24-10) in April 2011, defeating the Crimson 5-3 in the second and final game of the season series. The Terriers lost the other matchup that season. Tuesday’s game will be the team’s first meeting this season.

Harvard is in the middle of a four-game winning streak, having just swept fellow Ivy League team Yale University in a four-game, two-day series over the weekend. The Crimson offense pounded Yale, scoring more than 10 runs in three of the four games and forcing the mercy rule in all three of those games.

“They’ve been playing well, I do know that,” Rychcik said. “From that standpoint, we’re going to be ready. We’re in pretty good form right now.”

Harvard’s pitching is led by senior Rachel Brown, whose 1.63 ERA leads the team. Brown is a strikeout pitcher, averaging almost 10 per game with 171 total strikeouts on the season.

“She’s given us a hard time over time,” Rychcik said. “She’s got her share of strikeouts. Teams don’t hit real well against her, so she’s a very good pitcher. That’s one of the things they’ve done well.”

Two Harvard players are batting more than .400, with senior Jane Alexander leading the team with a .449 average, and sophomore Kasey Lange coming in a close second with a .421 average. Lange leads the team with 34 RBIs. Both players played significant roles in the series against Yale in Harvard’s impressive offensive outputs.

The Terriers’ bats came alive this past weekend as well, when an eight-run fifth inning in their first game against Albany allowed the Terriers to force a five-inning mercy-rule win.

Sophomore catcher Amy Ekart continued to pile on the RBIs and home runs, hitting her team-leading sixth home run of the season. Sophomore right fielder Jayme Mask continues to lead the team with a .351 batting average and 15 stolen bases.

Junior pitcher Erin Schuppert and sophomore pitcher Holli Floetker continued to build up their numbers this weekend as each of them came away with wins. Schuppert improved her record to 5-5 and Floetker moved to 13-3 on the season. Floetker and Schuppert will have to sustain this strong pitching to shut down Harvard’s powerful offense.

“Harvard’s been a real strong program in the last few years,” Rychcik said. “I think it’s building. I know we recruited some of the kids who ended up going to Harvard, so I know some of the kids.”

Despite a loss in the last game of their series against Albany, the Terriers hope to continue to push forward against their opponents as they regain the momentum lost a few weekends ago.

“You run into Harvard at an NCAA regional,” Rychcik said. “So it’s important to come out and play good. That’s going to make us better. They’re a pretty good team right now.”

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