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Softball awaiting packed weekend

MICHELLE JAY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF Terrier junior Jayme Mask is swinging a hot bat, as she is hitting .366 on the season for BU.

MICHELLE JAY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Terrier junior Jayme Mask is swinging a hot bat, as she is hitting .366 on the season for BU.

This weekend will be a busy one for the Boston University softball team, as it has a full slate of games planned out. Thursday, the Terriers will play one game against the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on the road and will take on the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in a three-game set at home over the weekend.

These four games come after a tough loss for the Terriers (11-20-1, 2-4 America East) against Harvard University Tuesday. Despite the efforts of freshman pitcher Lauren Hynes and junior center fielder Jayme Mask, who scored on an error in the sixth, the Terriers could not hold on to their slim lead, and the Crimson (12-17) eventually grabbed the lead in the sixth with two runs and closed it out in the seventh.

“It was very tough,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason of the loss. “Our record is 3-7 in one-run games. We’re in every game. We’ve given ourselves an opportunity to win those games. We still have to make it happen and get those runs across.”

Although it had its initial lumps at the beginning of the season, the Terrier offense has been picking up the slack, and it has increased its average 10 points since March 28.

Mask has been a key contributor all season long, as she leads the team with an impressive .366 average and 20 runs scored. Mask also leads the team with 19 stolen bases, only having been thrown out once. The second best base-stealing Terrier only has two steals, making those 19 even more valuable.

Despite the improved offense, the Terriers have had one glaring fault, and it has hurt them mightily lately — leaving runners on base. In their losses last weekend against the University of Hartford, the Terriers left a combined 12 runners on base. Although Tuesday’s contest saw the Terriers strand only four, the issue still arose. In the final inning, the Terriers got the lead-off hitter on second base with nobody out, yet failed to score a run.

“We had a runner at second base. All we needed to do was put the ball on the ground,” Gleason said. “We had a strike out and a pop-up. We have to figure out ways to get them home. It’s been something we’ve been working on in practice.”

The Terriers will first venture to Amherst to take on UMass (10-17) Thursday. Despite their record, the Minutewomen have been surging lately, winning their last three games and eight of their last nine.

Junior Caroline Raymond has led the pitching rotation for UMass. She has won her last two starts, improving her record to 6-7 on the season. She has also compiled a 4.66 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched, and has struck out 45 hitters.

The offense has been the key to success for the Minutewomen, as the top four hitters in the UMass lineup are all hitting above .300. Their leadoff hitter, senior Cyndil Matthew, has an impressive .388 batting average at the top of the lineup, while also stealing 19 bases and scoring 20 runs.

Senior Katie Bettencourt has been the power source of the offense. Bettencourt is batting .310 and has also cranked three home runs and driven home 19.

“They really have turned it around as of late,” Gleason said. “It comes as no surprise. [UMass] coach [Elaine] Sortino always has her teams ready.”

After the Terriers take on a surging UMass team for one game Thursday, they will face a struggling team in UMBC (8-28, 1-8 America East). The Retrievers dropped their first seven games of the season, and have had difficulty recovering.

Despite the ugly numbers, a solid number-one pitcher in senior Heather Brown leads the pitching staff. Brown has posted a 3.79 ERA in 98 innings pitched, while striking out 42.

While Brown has been successful, the rest of the UMBC staff has struggled. No other UMBC starter has an ERA under 5.00, which is part of the reason for their issues this season.

However, UMBC’s offense has been solid enough to win games. The Retrievers have four hitters batting at .300 or better through their first 36 games.

Sophomore first baseman Taylor Hall leads the pack with a .402 average this season. Hall has belted six home runs, driven in 36 runs and scored 18 times in 36 games.

Gleason said she doesn’t view the upcoming batting as a threat, however.

“We have faced some great hitters all year,” Gleason said. “We just emphasize to our pitching staff that they’re in control. We’ll have that same approach. We’ll play the game.”

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