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Softball ventures to California

The Boston University softball team heads out to warm Santa Clara, Calif., this weekend to compete in the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational after a strong start to the season, in which the Terriers took three out of four games in South Carolina.

AUDREY FAIN/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO Junior outfielder Mandy Fernandez has five hits through the Terriers’ first four games.

AUDREY FAIN/DAILY FREE PRESS FILE PHOTO
Junior outfielder Mandy Fernandez has five hits through the Terriers’ first four games.

The Terriers (3-1) will be faced with the task of playing Seattle University, Santa Clara University and the University of California-Davis.

BU put on a strong offensive performance at the Gamecock Invitational, outscoring its opponents 21-9. The Terriers will look to build off that strong all-around performance this weekend.

“We started at a really good place,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “As always, you have something to work on offensively and defensively and you try to focus on that in practice this week.

“Our whole goal and focus from the very beginning is to trust the process and play the game and commit to it and we just have to commit to the whole thing, the fundamentals and the whole thing that we have to do to get better each and every single game.”

Gleason said she believes the Terriers came out with a presence that intimidated opponents and ultimately contributed to the Terriers’ success. This confidence and presence ultimately stemmed from the strong pitching performances.

“How we took the field and how we communicated and how we attacked at the plate, we were very aggressive,” Gleason said. “In the beginning, it caused some strikeouts but just our presence and our confidence level — I was really impressed with that and how they took the field.

“And for [sophomore pitcher Melanie] Russell to take the mound after not pitching for a year-and-a-half was a great boost for her and for the entire team because you always feed off the pitcher on the circle and how they carry themselves. And with all of our pitchers, that carried to the rest of the team.”

The Terriers were powered in their strong performance in tournament by Russell and freshman third baseman Moriah Connolly. Both players were awarded the top Patriot League weekly awards — Connolly for Player of the Week and Russell for Pitcher of the Week.

Russell was strong in her first games with the Terriers, throwing 17 innings during the weekend tournament. In those innings, Russell fanned 12 hitters and held batters to a .190 batting average. She started three games in the circle, posting a 2-1 record.

“Melanie Russell was just very impressive on the mound,” Gleason said. “Her start after a layoff and to take the mound in South Carolina in a brand new facility, she was composing her time and she exuded confidence on the mound and I think that carried over to the rest of the team. I’m just so proud of how she took the mound for each game that she was involved in.”

Connolly was a force at the plate all weekend, going for 7-for-14 in the four games. The Florida native also collected 13 total bases and swiped three.

Gleason said she has been impressed by Connolly’s speed and her team-first attitude so far this season.

“Speed can do a lot of things, and Moriah has that,” Gleason said. “You can’t teach that. It’s just a part of her and Moriah has done everything we’ve asked her to do. She’s been very versatile and going between the infield and the outfield.

“She really came in as an infielder with us and then in the fall we moved her to the outfield, and due to some roster changes we had to move her into the infield again. She’s an option everywhere, just a fun player to watch and I think she can do some big things here at BU.”

To go along with Connolly’s strong performance, junior outfielder Mandy Fernandez contributed to the attack. Last season the outfielder struggled, hitting just .200 in 33 games. This year, she has gotten off to a hot start, recording five hits and four RBI through the first four contests.

While getting off to a fast start was important for the Terriers, Gleason said it is good for the team not to get too high on its quick 3-1 jump out of the gate.

“It’s always important, but like I said when the Patriot League preseason standings came out, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish,” Gleason said. “It can do a lot for your confidence and that can definitely build.”

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