With wintry weather at home, the Boston University softball team ventured down to sunny Orlando, Fla., to open its season in the Citrus Classic. Although the Terriers (1-4) competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World, there was no fairy-tale ending for the team, as it dropped four out of five games in the tournament.
The first game saw the Terriers take on Georgia Southern University. It was also BU coach Kathryn Gleason’s first game with the Terriers, replacing Shawn Rychcik, who left after the 2012 season for a job at North Carolina State University.
“We were excited to play and ready to hit the dirt,” Gleason said.
The contest pitted Terrier senior pitcher Whitney Tuthill against Georgia Southern (7-7) junior Allie Miles. Tuthill had no trouble settling in and was in control of the game. She gave up only five hits, one walk and struck out nine as she kept the Terriers in the game through her eight innings of work. Tuthill did not allow an Eagle to reach second base until the sixth inning, and that runner was eventually stranded at third.
Miles was nearly as impressive as Tuthill, going 7 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and striking out eight.
Neither team broke through until the seventh inning, when Georgia Southern got on the board first in the top of the seventh with first baseman Tabby Douberley’s leadoff solo homer.
The Terriers looked poised to come back with sophomore first baseman Kendra Meadows and sophomore right fielder Emily Felbaum reaching base on a walk and single respectively, and advancing to second and third on a sacrifice hit. Down to their last out, senior second baseman Emily Roesch singled, tying the game and forcing extra innings.
Georgia Southern nearly grabbed the lead again in the eighth inning on a single to right field, but Felbaum threw out right fielder Kaitlyn Johnson at home with a great throw to junior catcher Amy Ekart.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Terriers started out with a runner at second, per softball extra inning rules. Junior infielder Brittany Clendenny scored the game-winning run on a walk-off single by Ekart, giving the Terriers the 2-1 win to open up the season.
“We were down and came back,” Gleason said. “It was great. Great starting point for our team.”
The Terriers’ winning play didn’t last long. Later that day, BU took on the University of Wisconsin and lost by a score of 11-3. The Terriers labored through the first two innings, as the Badgers (10-1) feasted on senior pitcher Erin Schuppert. The Badgers jumped quickly on the board with two runs in the first inning, but did even more damage in the second, sending nine runs across the plate.
Freshman pitcher Lauren Hynes came in for damage control and did not allow any runs in her 2 1/3 innings. Although the Terriers scratched out three runs, they lost in five innings due to the eight-run mercy rule.
“We knew going in they were tough,” Gleason said. “We knew they were off to a hot start.”
On the second day, the Terriers dropped both games by the score of 9-1. Tuthill got the first start of the day in a game against Wisconsin. She kept the Terriers in the contest, allowing four runs in six innings of work. In the sixth inning, the Terriers got on the board as freshman pinch runner Haley King scored her first career run on sophomore left fielder Mandy Fernandez’s fielder’s choice.
With the Terriers down only three going into the seventh, they could not complete the comeback attempt. Freshman Lauren Hynes came in to pitch and with the help of a BU error, the Badgers scored five times, ending BU’s chances.
The second game was Hynes’ first career start, as the Terriers faced Georgia Southern again. Her first three innings were strong, and she held the Eagles scoreless. However, the fourth inning was a disaster for BU, as Georgia Southern tallied nine runs, starting with a leadoff homer by Thomas. Although the Terriers scratched out a run on a Clendenny infield single, they didn’t score any more and were again victim to the mercy rule.
The final game of the Citrus Classic saw Wisconsin continue its domination over the Terriers as the Badgers grabbed the win 5-1, their third win over BU in the weekend series. Tuthill got the start for BU and had a strong effort, going six innings, striking out three and allowing four earned runs. The story of the game was Badger pitcher Meghan McIntosh, who struck out eight and only allowed three hits en route to the complete-game victory.
Despite the outcome of the tournament, Gleason was not displeased with her team’s effort.
“It’s tough to play a team three times,” Gleason said. “It’s a good measuring stick for us.”