Softball, Sports

Softball sweeps UMBC, takes America East regular season title

Despite being displaced from the top spot in conference rankings since it dropped a series with Stony Brook University early in April, the Boston University softball team claimed the America East regular season title with a sweep of the University of Maryland–Baltimore County. BU had already claimed a spot in the America East Tournament prior to the series, but the three wins in combination with the results of the University at Albany – Stony Brook series gave the Terriers the No. 1 finish.

“It was one of our goals we set out for; to be the best team in the league and to win the regular season,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik, “It’s a long haul and you’ve got to do the ups and downs of it, and we came out 15-3… There aren’t too many championships that you don’t want to win, so it’s good to win a regular season championship, and, like I said, we achieved part of our goal for the year and now we can move on to the next part.”

BU’s (37-14, 15-3 America East) 6-4 win in the first game came largely by way of the long ball. Trailing by one in the sixth inning, the Terriers rallied to pick up four runs on as many hits. Sophomore shortstop Brittany Clendenny started things off with a one-out solo homer to even the score at two apiece. Then, after an RBI single by rookie Mandy Fernandez, junior Emily Roesch added two more to the board for the Terriers with a shot over the right field fence.

In the seventh inning, sophomore Megan Volpano added one more for BU with a homer to left. UMBC (19-29, 1-16 America East) had no last-minute response for the Terriers, and junior Whitney Tuthill picked up the wind from the mound. Sophomore Holli Floetker earned the save after pitching the final two innings for BU.

Rychcik said that he attributes a large portion of the team’s success to its pitching abilities.

“Softball is driven by pitching,” Rychcik said. “If you’ve got a good pitcher you can have shortcomings on defense, offensively, you can kind of make do. At different times, I think all three of our pitchers have been our best pitchers and have carried us… It’s not too often that you win a championship if it hasn’t been driven by pitching.”

The second win was a slightly more favorable 9-4 decision for the Terriers. The team collected 13 hits and each of its nine runs was earned. Roesch had a stand-out performance as she went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate. The second baseman hit three singles and a triple while driving in three. Volpano drove in two runs on a 1-for-3 outing.

Finally, the Terriers completed the three-game sweep over the Retrievers by virtue of a 10-1 six-inning NCAA mercy rule victory. Floetker picked up her 17th win with a five-inning, five-hit performance.

Fernandez had one hit during the game, but that hit was her first career grand-slam with BU. Fernandez’s four RBIs led the way for the Terriers, while senior Melanie Delgado contributed two on two hits.

In spite of his team’s youth, Rychcik said that he has no fear about postseason jitters coming from a lack of experience in his players.

“At this time, looking back… those sophomores got a hundred games under their belts,” Rychcik said. “They’re not rookies anymore. They’ve played against some really good competition this year…  We’ve been in real tight games and you grow a lot in those games, and learn to handle pressure.”

The regular season championship is BU’s third consecutive title. The Terriers will host the America East Tournament at BU Softball Field next week.

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