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Softball travels to West Point

The Boston University softball team will have to wait another couple of days to play its first game in Boston due to the cancellation of the Terriers’ matchups at Bryant University and against Providence College due to inclement weather. Instead, the team will head down to West Point, N.Y., for its first Patriot League matchup of the season against the U.S. Military Academy this Saturday.

While BU coach Kathryn Gleason is disappointed that the Terriers (14-11) will not play their first game at home Thursday, she said a couple of extra games outside will be beneficial for the team.

“We’ve been on the road since February,” Gleason said. “It would have been nice to play on our own field, but we’re not like any other team across the country dealing with the weather. We just need a couple more games of sun and wind and I think we’ll be ready to go.”

The Black Knights’ (9-15, 1-2 Patriot League) struggles stem from pitching. Opponents are getting on base at a .373 clip with 18 home runs, 115 RBI and slugging .463. The team is led in the circle by pitchers Kristen West and Caroline Smith. West boasts a 3.10 ERA in 38.1 innings, including five starts. Smith leads the team in starts with 10 and has posted a 3.79 ERA over 61 innings.

Even with Army’s issues in the pitching department, Gleason said the Terriers just need to worry about playing the same game that they have all season.

“Just focusing on what we’ve been focusing on all year,” Gleason said about the matchup. “That’s just playing the game. The coaching staff looks at the opponent and we do our scouting reports and look at the stats but for when it becomes game time, it’s all about playing the game and we just play the game one pitch, one out, one inning at a time.”

In terms of offensive, the Black Knights sit in the middle of the pack of the conference. Army is fourth in the Patriot League in batting average and on-base percentage at .268 and .325, respectively. But Army does, however, top the conference in stolen bases with 52 bases swiped.

“They like to run,” Gleason said. “They’ve played a pretty good schedule and obviously been affected by some weather as well but we’re excited to have our first Patriot League opponent and I know they are a well-coached team and they’re just aggressive on the bases. They have quite a few steal attempts and been successful there so we’ll just be ready for a fast-paced game and it’s not like it’s something we haven’t yet. We’ve seen it in other opponents this year.”

Offensively, the Black Knights are helmed by infielder Kasey McCravey. A 2013 First-Team Patriot League third baseman, McCravey leads the team with a .417 batting average, four home runs, 24 RBI, .430 OBP and a .694 slugging percentage.

Gleason said BU will not change its approach from the circle against McCravey.

“We’re just going to pitch to her like we would anyone else in that situation,” Gleason said. “Obviously our goal is to keep them off the bases and do that as well as we can but try to minimize her at-bats. Getting through the order, one, two, three.”

The key for the Terriers will be to keep their strong pitching going. Freshman Makinna Akers has posted a 2.02 ERA in 52 innings pitched over 14 appearances and seven starts. Sophomore Lauren Hynes has led the team with 74.2 innings pitched thus far, and has also won seven ball games. But, it may end up being the defense behind all three pitchers that will determine how the Terriers fare down at West Point.

“[The pitchers’ success has been about] just working together,” Gleason said. “We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve split. Lauren will pitch a half and then Makinna will pitch a half. Just trying to get ground balls and let the defense play behind you. If we get a strikeout, great, but just letting the defense play behind you, and that’s been our focus all year.”

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