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Tricky Great Dane pitching, offensive woes hinder Terriers

During its six-game winning streak, the Boston University softball team improved in every phase of the game, most notably on the offensive side.

The Terriers (17-22-1, 5-6 America East) improved their batting average nearly 30 points in a month, raising the team average to .271 going into Wednesday.

Despite steadily improving in the past month, BU struggled at the dish Wednesday afternoon in a doubleheader against the University at Albany at the BU Softball Field.

In the six wins, the Terriers faced the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Boston College and Bryant University. All three teams have had their struggles in the circle, with UMBC’s (9-37, 1-14 America East) ERA sitting at 6.02, BC’s (12-30) at 6.37 and Bryant’s (17-20) at 4.35.

While all three teams have had trouble getting consistency from their respective pitching staffs, the Terriers faced a much tougher test against the top team in the America East in Albany (30-10, 13-1 America East), who has not had any difficulties in the circle.

Senior Brittany MacFawn has led the way for the Great Danes, winning 21 games and compiling an ERA of 2.06 as well as striking out an incredible 228 batters in 192.1 innings of work.

“They have a good pitcher,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “There’s a reason she’s leading the America East.”

Under the strength of MacFawn, the Terriers were kept off-balance all day, and were shut out in both games of the doubleheader.

MacFawn started the first game for Albany, and faced senior center fielder Jayme Mask to start off the game. Mask, who has been the team’s most consistent hitter all year with a .381 average and .447 on-base percentage, grounded out to third base start the game. This was an ominous sign of things to come, as the BU offense could not get anything started against MacFawn.

Although the Terriers hit a double in the second off the bat of junior shortstop Brittany Clendenny, they could not bring her in.

While the Terriers appeared to have improved in driving runners in during their winning streak, they faltered in the doubleheader at cashing in when they had the few runners on that they did.

After the threat in the second inning and a walk of Mask in third, MacFawn settled down and retired 10 Terrier batters in a row. She was tough to solve and even make contact against, as she struck out nine batters in her six innings of work.

Mask and freshman designated hitter Lauren Hynes were kept off base all game, which hurt the Terriers, as they have been the table-setters for the offense this season.

Although the Terriers smacked two hits in the bottom of the sixth inning, it was too late, as they could not get any of those runners across and fell 8-0 in mercy-rule fashion.

“It was tough,” Gleason said. “She’s a good pitcher. She hits her spots and mixes it up. We haven’t seen a pitcher like that in a while who’s throwing in the mid-60s.”

In the second game of the doubleheader, the Terriers faced MacFawn again, yielding similar results.

The Terriers started the game with a golden opportunity, as Mask and Hynes were safe on a single and an error, respectively. Although they reached base with nobody out, the Terriers hit back-to-back ground outs to the shortstop and then senior second baseman Emily Roesch popped up to left field, ending the threat.

“Those are the opportunities, especially against a good team such as Albany, that you have to take advantage of,” Gleason said. “I don’t think we took advantage of those opportunities today.”

BU had another chance in the second inning on a two-out double by junior designated hitter Chelsea Kehr, but the Terriers once again squandered their opportunity.

MacFawn was on top of her game again, this time striking out 12 BU hitters. The Terriers could not solve the puzzle that was MacFawn, and went down 1-2-3 in the final two innings, failing to score for the second straight game.

“We just have to rebound,” Gleason said. “We just didn’t do what we needed to do offensively, especially in the first game.”

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