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Softball eliminated from NCAA tournament, goes 1-2 at NCAA Regional

The Boston University softball team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament after going 1-2 in the NCAA Regional last weekend in Berkeley, Calif. The Terriers earned a thrilling extra-innings victory over Iona College on Saturday, but fell to the University of Arkansas on Friday and host University of California – Berkeley later on Saturday to end their post-season run.

Bracketology pitted BU against Arkansas in the first round of play. Both teams got on the board early, each scoring in the second inning as BU tallied one run as Arkansas picked up two. The Terriers’ offense went cold for the next three innings while their defense struggled as well. An error by senior first baseman Melanie Delgado ultimately resulted in the Razorbacks’ third and winning run coming in unearned.

When the sixth inning arrived, it looked as if BU’s greatest opportunity to push for a comeback had presented itself. The meat of the order, sophomores Megan Volpano, Brittany Clendenny and Chelsea O’Connor were scheduled to bat.

Volpano led things off with a solo blast that brought the Terriers within one run of their opponents. However, Clendenny, who finished the year leading the Terriers in doubles (14), home runs (8), total bases (95) and slugging percentage (.549), hit a line drive directly at the right fielder. O’Connor then singled up the middle, but the next two batters were unable to advance her further than first base and the Razorbacks escaped with a 3-2 victory.

“They are a well-coached team,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik of Arkansas in the post-game conference. “Obviously we are playing up a couple of conferences, and I thought our kids matched up pretty well.”

BU’s second contest of the regional was certainly one that no player from either team will soon forget. The game lasted 13 innings, the longest of the season for the Terriers, and resulted in a 4-3 win for BU – the team’s only win during the tournament.

The Terriers drew blood first when O’Connor drove Volpano in with a single in the first inning. It took Iona five innings to get to sophomore pitcher Holli Floetker, but the Gaels added a run in both the fifth and sixth innings on two and three hits, respectively.

BU managed to keep the score even by scoring a run of their own in the fifth. This time, Volpano drove in classmate Jayme Mask who singled earlier in the inning.

During extra innings, Iona threatened first when it put up a run against relief pitcher, junior Whitney Tuthill.

But BU got a break in the bottom half of the inning when sophomore catcher Amy Ekart reached on a throwing error and advanced to third. However, it was the hustle of Delgado -who brought Ekart home on an infield single – that preserved the game for another four innings.

In the bottom of the 13th inning, O’Connor and junior Emily Roesch each reached on singles and advanced to third and second on a wild pitch. Ekart stepped up and drove O’Connor home to end the game just before it reached three hours in length.

Almost immediately after the extended match against Iona, the Terriers were forced to play No. 1 Cal. The Golden Bears had lost to Arkansas earlier and had no plans to suffer another defeat.

Junior pitcher Jolene Henderson limited the Terriers to just three hits and struck out 11. Cal took the win by virtue of the NCAA mercy rule, winning 8-0 in six innings.

In spite of the lopsided loss that ended the year, Rychcik said that he was content with the team’s overall performance this season.

“It’s been a great year,” Rychcik said. “We’ve beaten a lot of good teams and played well against a lot of good competition. We were able to come out here and represent our conference and school really well.”

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