The Boston University softball team demonstrated Tuesday afternoon that even when the big hits are not coming, it’s still capable of coming out with a win. The Terriers defeated Harvard University 1-0 on a hot Tuesday afternoon with their ability to play small ball in a close game.
“Keeping it close like that, we got to play small ball,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik. “And in the end we got a runner on and we moved her and ended up getting that runner on and moved her over again.
I told them all we only needed one today.”
In a game marked by masterful pitching performances from both the BU and Harvard pitchers, runs were in short supply for both teams. Sophomore pitcher Holli Floetker held the Crimson to three hits in an impressive performance marked by a timely ground out with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth.
Harvard’s number one pitcher, Rachel Brown, held the Terriers scoreless for the first four innings of the game before being replaced by number two pitcher Laura Ricciardone who struck out the first three BU batters she faced.
Ricciardone proved less dominant in the bottom of the sixth inning when the Terriers, through an excellent display of small ball, put the only run of the game on the board.
The Terriers entered the game knowing that against a strong opponent like Harvard, getting a large number of hits would be difficult, especially against star pitcher Brown. After five innings with no score by either team, BU entered the sixth knowing that one run could mean a win.
“We were going to play for a run,” Rychcik said. “So if we got the leadoff on we were going to move her over.”
Senior first baseman Melanie Delgado opened the inning with a single before being replaced by pinch runner sophomore Kendra Meadows. From there, the Terriers moved like clockwork as sophomore right fielder Jayme Mask bunted, advancing Meadows to second and reaching first herself after an impressive display of speed.
“If Jayme and [Erica Casacci] came up with one out and Mel wasn’t on, one of them probably would have tried to bunt for a hit,” Rychcik said.
From there, senior left fielder Casacci made a sacrifice bunt, advancing Meadows and Mask to third and second respectively. Sophomore third baseman Megan Volpano, who went 2-for-3 on the day, hit a sacrifice fly to deep center field, allowing Meadows to score and the Terriers to take the lead for the remainder of the game.
“We had two really nice sacrifice bunts and then a sacrifice fly,” Rychcik said. “That’s a run and then a win.”
Over the course of the season the Terriers have played more than 20 one- or two-run games where the ability to put one run on the board meant the difference between a win and a loss. As the Terriers demonstrated on Tuesday, small ball is often the most effective way to get that one crucial run.
“You gotta hope for your opportunities and getting the leadoff on; getting her over to second base was key,” Rychcik said. “And then eventually we got her over to third and that makes it a lot easier over at third. A fly ball scores a run.”
It is in games like these that being able to play small ball can make a huge difference for the Terriers as they demonstrated their ability to adapt to the circumstance they were playing under.
“In the [sixth] you can play for just one run,” Rychcik said, “because that’s all you need to win.”