After a rough start to the season at the Citrus Classic in Florida, the Boston University softball team plans to bounce back in Tucson, Ariz., at the Wildcat Invitational at the University of Arizona.
The Terriers (1-4), who made an NCAA tournament appearance last season, dropped four of their five games last week to begin 2013.
“We’re excited to get back on the field again,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “We learned a lot about ourselves last weekend. We’ve spent the last two days of practice focusing on what we didn’t do last weekend.”
Not only was BU’s first victory an exciting extra-inning game, but it was also Gleason’s first victory as BU head coach, following the departure of Shawn Rychcik.
Unfortunately, BU could not keep the magic going during the rest of the weekend. That same day, it lost to the University of Wisconsin 11-3 in a game that lasted only five innings because of the eight-run mercy rule.
The rest of the weekend was more of the same, as BU dropped another two games against the Badgers (10-1) and one more to Georgia Southern University (7-7). By the end of the weekend, the Terriers were outscored 36-7 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
There is no doubt the women will be looking for a much better result this time around, when they face even tougher opponents.
This weekend’s matchups include Portland State University, the University of Arizona and the University of California-Riverside. The most notable team is Arizona (10-5), which is ranked 17th in the nation.
The Wildcats pack a lineup filled with strong hitters. Their two best hitters are sophomores Hallie Wilson and Chelsea Goodacre.
Goodacre leads the team with four home runs, 11 RBIs and a .556 slugging percentage in 15 games. Meanwhile, Wilson leads the team with a .409 batting average, 18 hits and a .509 on-base percentage.
“Arizona has had some injuries to some key people, but they are still Arizona and in the Pac-12,” Gleason said. “They’re going to be a tough opponent, but we feel like we’re ready for them.”
Despite Arizona’s ranking, BU cannot overlook the other teams it will face. The UC Riverside Highlanders (5-9) had a rough start of their own while facing some challenging opponents along the way. Three of their losses came two weeks ago when they played in the Campbell/Cartier Classic against No. 2 University of Oklahoma, No. 19 University of Kentucky and No. 18 University of Washington.
The Portland State Vikings (4-11) are in a similar situation, having lost 11 games thus far. Quite a few of those losses also came at the hands of talented opponents. Earlier in the season, Portland State held No. 16 Stanford University to three runs in a 3-1 loss. Unlike the Highlanders, the Vikings defeated Kentucky 5-3 just two weeks ago.
Despite the uplifting win, they suffered several demoralizing losses against No. 8 University of California-Berkeley and No. 3 Arizona State University last week during the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas. The worst loss came in the form of a 19-2 slugfest with Arizona State (16-0) providing the bats.
Gleason said pitching will be a crucial aspect of the Terriers’ game. If they can keep their opponents off the board and stay in the game, it can be a good weekend for BU.
“All of our pitchers offer something different,” Gleason said. “We might switch things up, but having them pitch in a different environment helped them learn more.”
The Terriers’ first of five games will be against Portland State Friday afternoon, followed by a nightcap against Arizona. They will play through Sunday, with their final game against Riverside that morning.