The Boston University softball team will be looking to rebound from a disappointing showing in California when the team arrives in Clearwater, Fla., for the Under Armour Showcase.
Seattle University and the University of California-Davis both defeated the Terriers (4-5) twice in the Santa Clara Invitational. During the five games, BU’s opponents averaged seven runs per contest.
Looking ahead, the Terriers will be playing eight games while in Florida, searching for more consistency in the field. The Terrier defense committed 11 errors during the past tournament, something that the offense could not make up for.
“We’ve just been practicing on getting back to the fundamentals, just making routine plays,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “We don’t have to make outstanding plays, just make one pitch at a time and get one out at a time. I think we lost that last week and got away from what we’re all about.”
As for the upcoming showcase, many of the teams the Terriers will be playing have struggled in the early part of the season, presenting the team with an opportunity to get back to winning ways.
Opponents such as the University of Toldeo, Quinnipiac University and Villanova University are all under .500, while Southern Illinois University sits at 7-7 and Providence College has yet to play a game yet due to inclement weather.
BU participated in the Under Armour Showcase last season, taking on Villanova (5-6) and Quinnipiac (0-5) in that tournament as well.
The Terriers bested the Bobcats by a score of 7-3 on the strength of a complete game from then-senior pitcher Erin Schuppert. Villanova proved much more formidable, though, and the Wildcats defeated BU by a score of 7-1. The only Terrier run in the contest came on the strength of junior infielder Emily Felbaum’s first career home run.
Two other teams, Central Michigan University and Cleveland State University, may present the biggest problems for the Terriers. Central Michigan (8-6) boasts an impressive .275 batting average with a team total of 14 home runs. The Vikings (7-6) have also been proficient in the power department and have 10 home runs to their names.
The tough opponents pose an issue for the Terriers, but fatigue may be something that gets the best of BU before the tournament comes to an end.
“I think the biggest problem is that we’re playing 13 games in 10 days,” Gleason said.
Despite the lack of consistency in the field, the Terriers have hit the ball well to start the year. BU has a team batting average of .301 and is led by junior outfielder Manny Fernandez. The junior is hitting .448 with 13 hits so far, six shy of her total from last year.
“What’s impressed me the most is the team effort that everyone’s contributing,” Gleason said. “If you look up and down the RBI everyone’s got between four and seven RBI so its not just one person that’s bringing everybody in.”
Combined with the knack BU has for getting hits, the team also has had success with runners on base. The Terriers have an eye-popping .324 average with runners in scoring position, which includes 35 hits.
After batting leadoff in the first two games of the season, senior outfielder and 2013 America East Conference Player of the Year Jayme Mask is adjusting to her new role in the lineup. Mask has been shifted around the order, batting either second or toward the bottom. So far this season, Mask has six RBI to go along with a .290 batting average, over 100 points lower than her .399 average from 2013.
With Mask jumping around in the lineup, her position at the top of the order has been filled by freshman third baseman Moriah Connolly. In her first week with the Terriers, Connolly was named Patriot League Player of the Week. During the first tournament, she batted .500 and had three triples in a span of 14 at-bats.
“Its just a matter of what’s working right now, Moriah’s been doing a great job for us and has been a good spark so far,” Gleason said of the changes. “We’ve also had [Felbaum] in the two spot and there’s been times when we’ve had three leadoff hitters in a row at 8-9-1 so we’re just mixing it up right now.”
Although the Terriers will be in a new environment for the third consecutive weekend, Gleason said the team is excited to hit the road again.
“It’ll be nice to get away from campus, play on some dirt and not have to pack our bags on Sunday and come home,” Gleason said. “Just being together and playing a lot of different opponents is going to be great.”