The 2013 campaign for the Boston University softball team started on a bleak note, opening with a 2-7 record in tournament play. Inconsistency coupled with strong opponents led to the poor early record.
However, that time seems like a distant memory, as the Terriers (17-20-1, 5-4 America East) have played strongly as of late, rattling off a season-best six-game winning streak, with their latest, an 8-0 victory, coming against Sacred Heart University Sunday afternoon.
“It feels good, it feels as if everything is starting to come together,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “All of the hard work we put in over the past few months is finally culminating. We’ve never had all three pieces of the game come together. They’re all on the same page.”
In the opening act of the season, the Terrier offense struggled, as the team was only hitting .242 going into a March 28 doubleheader against Providence College. However, during the team’s current winning streak, the Terriers have hit the ball extremely well, and have raised their average to an improved .271.
Not only has their average increased significantly, but the Terriers are coming through with clutch hits, and are not leaving as many runners on base as they had been in the initial part of the season.
Junior catcher Amy Ekart has excelled at the dish, hitting .324 this season. Not only is her average second best on the team, but she also leads the team in the power department, clubbing four homers and collecting 19 RBIs. With the four home runs and six other extra-base hits, Ekart also leads the team with a .510 slugging percentage.
Another key contributor to the vastly improved offense is freshman outfielder Haley King. King’s .310 average is third on the team and her impressive .402 on-base percentage puts her second on in that category.
“Instead of our minds being on what happened last at bat, at what they’re throwing, it’s not see the ball, hit the ball,” Gleason said. “We have aggressive discipline. We are just playing our game.”
While the Terrier offense has been one of the main cogs in the ignition of late, the pitching staff has also stepped up, providing a boost to a team that needed consistency.
Senior pitcher Whitney Tuthill has been solid all season, recording a team-best 13 victories so far this season and compiling a 2.33 ERA, also good for the top spot on the team. She has struck out 121 opponents in her 162.1 innings pitched.
Recently in late-game situations, she’s even been available to come in to close out games. In the series sweep of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Tuthill picked up saves in the final two contests.
Although Tuthill has been strong all season, the back end of the rotation was shaky and unreliable at the start of the season. However, over the past few series, the rotation added more depth with the improved efforts of freshman pitcher Lauren Hynes.
At the start of the season, Hynes had an ERA well over 5.00. However, with more time in the circle, Hynes has changed for the better, lowering her ERA to 4.68. She has three wins, with two most recently coming in the series against UMBC (8-36, 1-14 America East). In her 55.1 innings of work she has fanned 37 hitters.
“They have been a mainstay all year,” Gleason said of her pitchers. “We’re now giving them the offensive support that they need. We let them relax and breathe a little bit.”
Junior center fielder Jayme Mask has been one of the top performers for the Terrier offense this season, hitting a team-best .380. She also has a .405 slugging percentage and a .444 on-base percentage. While she has been a great threat at the plate, there has been one area where she has excelled the most: stealing bases.
This year Mask has been safe in 96.7 percent of her attempts, swiping 29 of 30 possible bases. Mask is second in the America East Conference in the category, trailing University at Albany outfielder Annie Johnson by four stolen bases.
Against the Retrievers, Mask shone in the stolen base department. In a game where the Terriers set a team record stealing seven bases, Mask stole four of them, a Terrier record for a single player. Later that day, Mask stole two more bases, giving her a doubleheader total of six steals.
“She’s the most enthusiastic and positive person on the team,” Gleason said. “When she gets on, we know she’s going to run in some way. When she gets on we tend to score.”