Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Softball team prepares for rival Boston College after emotional victory

In the wake of tragedy that shook millions across the globe, the Boston University softball team experienced an emotional victory against Bryant University Tuesday. With this win in hand, the team will travel to take on Boston College Thursday.

Although the Boston Marathon attack was fresh in everyone’s mind, the Terriers (15-20-1, 5-4 America East), wearing blue and yellow ribbons to honor the victims of the marathon, persevered and came away with the victory.

“It was tough to start the game,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “They wanted to play, they wanted to be together. They just battled back and they just never think they’re out of a game.”

With the 8-6 win over Bryant (14-19), BU won its fourth straight contest, and looked much improved over the past week.

In Tuesday’s affair, the Terriers trailed by one run in the sixth inning, but rallied to win the game by two runs. Junior third baseman Megan Volpano was clutch for the Terriers, as she smacked the game-winning two-run double.

The offense has drastically improved since the early stages of the season, now holding a .260 average as a team. Not only has junior center fielder Jayme Mask been a key contributor, but junior catcher Amy Ekart has been crucial to the newly found success as well. She has four homers, 19 RBIs and has also put up an impressive .500 slugging percentage.

“We’ve really worked on our base runners and taking extra bases,” Gleason said. “And people are just stepping up. They’re just playing. The runs keep coming in. They just keep hitting line drives. Hitting is contagious.”

Not only is the offense changing for the better, but the pitching is gaining stability as well. Senior pitcher Whitney Tuthill has been strong all year, winning 11 games for the Terriers, with the last victory coming against Bryant. Tuthill has a team-best 2.45 ERA, along with 102 strikeouts and a .245 opponents’ average. Tuthill is also pitching strong out of the bullpen, earning two saves against UMBC (8-32 1-11 America East) and a win in relief against the Bryant Bulldogs.

While Tuthill has been a force in the circle all season, the back end of the rotation is struggling to gain consistency. However, freshman pitcher Lauren Hynes has been picking up the slack, providing a huge boost to the Terrier pitching staff.

Over the past weekend, Hynes picked up two victories against the Retrievers, allowing only one run over her starts. Tuesday, Hynes got the start again, and pitched well. She went 5.1 innings, allowed two runs and struck out four in a no decision. Hynes also improved her ERA, which was well over five at one point, to 4.68.

“I’m very proud of Lauren Hynes,” Gleason said. “She had to become a key member of the pitching staff and she’s embraced it. Like every freshman she’ll have her ups and downs.”

While the Terriers are playing well, they have a familiar foe in store Thursday in BC (10-27).

In an April 4 contest, the Terriers came away with a slim 3-1 victory over the Eagles. Sophomore center fielder Mandy Fernandez hit a two-run home run in the victory. Tuthill went the distance that day, only allowing one run in seven innings of work.

“We played them twice in the fall. It’s an inter-city rival thing,” Gleason said. “We just enjoy playing. No game is more important than the other, but it’s always fun to go over there and play.”

Since the loss, the Eagles are struggling mightily, losing eight of nine games, most recently at the hands of Virginia Tech University in mercy-rule fashion.

Much of the problem for the Eagles this season is pitching. As a team, their ERA is a struggling 6.60. Their number one pitcher, sophomore Chelsea Dimon, has an ERA of 6.19 despite being responsible for eight of her team’s 10 wins.

Although pitching has not been effective for the Eagles, their offense has been one of the reasons for the team’s victories. They are led by outfielder Tony Speer. Speer has compiled terrific stats this season, hitting .347, mashing nine homers and collecting 25 RBIs.

The Terriers finally hit their stride during the four-game win streak. The only thing that stands in the way of a fifth win in a row is a familiar rival.

“It would be great to win five, it was great to win four on a difficult day,” Gleason said. “We don’t talk too much about wins and losses. We just talk about playing hard every game and they’ve done that every game this year. At the end of the game we hope we have more runs than the other team.”

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