For five straight innings, the Boston University Terriers struggled to knock in runs against the University of Connecticut. Despite loading the bases in the first, second and fourth inning, the Terriers offense faced difficulty in driving in any runners, as they left nine runners stranded through the first five innings.
As the sixth inning rolled on, the Terriers (17-12, 2-1 Patriot League) slowly loaded the bases. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Hynes reached on an error by the first baseman. Freshman center fielder Moriah Connolly dug out a single on a chopper just out of the reach of Huskies (7-21) pitcher Lauren Duggan. Senior right fielder Jayme Mask followed through with a liner that dropped in front Huskies left fielder Heather Fyfe to load the bases for freshman third baseman Brittany Younan.
Duggan, who showed great poise throughout the game, quickly fell behind to Younan with a 3-1 count. Younan, displaying astute patience as a .460 hitter with runners-on-base, waited for her pitch and slapped a 3-2 fastball towards Huskies third baseman Emily O’Donnell, who could only knock down the ball, allowing the Terriers to tie the game.
BU coach Kathryn Gleason was impressed by the maturity displayed by Younan in the crucial at-bat for the Terriers.
“[Younan] loves the pressure,” Gleason said. “She loves to be up in those situations and I think it’s the newcomers attitude all year. It’s just what can we do. She seems to embrace those situations and the thing about her is that she can bunt, she can slap something away.”
With the bases loaded, senior shortstop Brittany Clendenny stepped up to the plate. The situation was déjà vu for the Gainesville, Va., native who left the bases loaded in the second and fourth inning. This time, Clendenny would not let her at-bat go by without runs scoring.
“Before my at-bat, I was more focused on my timing because [Duggan] was a little bit quicker than the last pitchers we’ve been facing,” Clendenny said. “One thing that was on my mind was to getting my timing down and swinging as hard as I could.”
And swing hard she did. Clendenny lined a single to right field, scoring two runs and adding to her team-leading 28 RBI. After leaving six runners on base in her two previous at-bats, Clendenny made an adjustment in her approach at the plate.
“I laid off the riseball,” Clendenny said. “I swung at a few of those and got out in my first at-bats. Just getting a base-hit, a fly ball to the outfield at that point would’ve worked.”
Gleason said she saw something different in Clendenny during the senior’s last at-bat.
“I think you could see it in her eyes,” Gleason said. “She was just relaxed. Let the ball come to her and swing the bat and I think she felt confident after putting a good swing on the bat two innings before that so I think she felt confident at the plate.”
Despite the offense leaving nine runners on base through the first five innings, Hynes did not worry about the offense coming through with runs.
“I never really felt worried during the game,” Hynes said. “I knew that we were going to score at some point. It was just about when we were going to do it. Obviously we’d like to score earlier in the game but it was nice to get those runs on and then get a couple of insurance runs by getting three runs in that one inning.”
Younan has impressed the upperclassmen with the way she has come into her own early in the season.
“She came in here as a freshman and really set the tone for her year,” Hynes said. “She’s been hitting consistently throughout the entire season. She is quick and she’s been thrown into third base for us, which she hasn’t played before, but she stepped up, really as a freshman.
Meanwhile, Clendenny has led the team both on and off the field.
“She’s been a leader,” Gleason said. “She’s lead us on the field the entire year and by virtue of being at shortstop, you are the quarterback most of the time and she’s stayed positive and gives an all-out effort and she expects that from her teammates. I’m really proud of her.”