After struggling in its first two weekends of the season, the Boston University softball team hopes to reverse its fortunes in a packed spring break trip to Florida.
The Terriers (3-7) will face 13 teams over the course of 10 days, playing five doubleheaders and getting only two days of rest. Other than a trip to Tampa, Fla., March 13 to face the University of Southern Florida, BU will stay in Clearwater, Fla., for the duration of the trip.
BU coach Kathryn Gleason said she sees the trip as a valuable opportunity for the team, one that allows it to play uninterrupted softball without the worries of schoolwork hanging over the players’ heads.
“We look forward to being together for 10 days, as opposed to the [Track and Tennis Center] practicing,” Gleason said. “[We look forward to] continuing to learn who we are as a team.”
Before the Terriers can face their conference opponents in the upcoming months, they will have to square off against a set of tough teams.
They begin the Under Armour Showcase Friday, facing Quinnipiac University and Northwestern University in a doubleheader. Saturday, they play another doubleheader against Wagner College and Youngstown State University. Their first weekend ends with an early-morning game Sunday against Villanova University.
The struggling BU offense will have to work to overcome the Northwestern pitching staff, which blanked its opponents in back-to-back games over the past weekend. Gleason hopes the team can improve upon its offense early in games over the break.
“Against Arizona [last weekend] we gave up three runs in the first inning, putting us in a hole we don’t need to be in,” Gleason said. “We need to score first and take an early lead.”
After a day of rest Monday, the Terriers will finish off the Under Armour Showcase with three games in which they will face the first of two opponents they played in last year’s spring break trip. After playing the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Tuesday morning, BU will finish the day with an afternoon game against Fordham University before playing USF (9-10) Wednesday night. Gleason identified USF as one of the Terriers’ toughest opponents for the weekend.
In last year’s Under Armour Showcase, the Terriers defeated Fordham 4-3 in 10 innings, a victory Gleason said she hopes the team can repeat.
“They know what’s happening in the world of softball and what it will take to beat a bunch of those teams,” Gleason said.
After the Showcase, BU will get one more day off before beginning another weekend of jam-packed tournament play at the Clearwater Spring Invitational. The second Friday of the trip, it will face the University of Maryland, College Park and Rutgers University before playing its last doubleheader against Oklahoma State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Saturday. The Terriers will finish off the trip Sunday morning against Robert Morris University before returning to Boston.
After making the Super Regionals in the NCAA Tournament last year, Gleason has identified Oklahoma State University as one of the Terriers’ toughest opponents of the weekend. Despite its success last season, OSU (7-11) is in the midst of a six-game losing streak going into the Invitational.
Gleason laid out simple goals for the team over the break, looking for improvement on both defense and offense.
“Our goal is always to leave a tournament with a winning record,” Gleason said. “Our defense needs to improve. Being out there will help us. I tell them that every game is winnable, even when we play some tough opponents.”
For the team, the upcoming trip marks an opportunity to end the struggles it has faced in the early parts of the season before tackling conference play. But more than anything, the packed week of playing time marks an opportunity for the Terriers to get a sense of who they are as a team.
“I hope at the end of these 10 days we’ll know who we are going into conference play,” Gleason said.