The Boston University softball team started the season with three pitchers: sophomore Lauren Hynes, sophomore Melanie Russell and freshman Makinna Akers. Through the trials and tribulations of the season, the Terriers pitching staff began to take on aches and pains.Eventually, Hynes stood alone in the circle this weekend as the team took on Lehigh University in a three-game series.
With both Russell and Akers both out indefinitely due to injury, the Terriers (19-14, 4-2 Patriot League) are left with one pitcher on their entire roster. The injuries have left Hynes with the task of throwing every inning for the Terriers until at least one of the two pitchers recovers from their respective injuries.
The weekend brought the Mountain Hawks (17-12, 7-2 Patriot League) to Boston. Favored in the pre-season poll to win the Patriot League, the Mountain Hawks came into town having not dropped a contest in nearly a month, with their last loss coming March 6.
Hynes was given the task of pitching in all three games against the Mountain Hawks with nobody ready to come in behind her. With the odds stacked against her, Hynes pitched all three games, throwing a combined 359 pitches across three games during the weekend series and led the Terriers to two wins in the series victory.
“[Hynes] is a workhorse and she knows that she needs to step up and do what she’s been doing,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “She knows what’s working for her and I think Lauren has given us a chance, and that’s all we’re asking of her.”
On the season so far, Hynes, a native of San Diego, has posted a 4.01 ERA while striking out 3.09 hitters per contest. Despite a low strikeout total, the key to Hynes’ success has been her ability to induce ground balls. Her 10.93 ground outs per game total leads the Terriers’ pitching staff by a large margin.
Despite the extra burden of pitching a complete game every time out, Hynes has not changed her mentality.
“Just take my deep breaths and one pitch at a time,” Hynes said of her philosophy. “It’s the same thing when the bases are loaded or if there are no runners on so I just gotta make the pitch and good things will happen.”
Senior catcher Amy Ekart, who caught all three of Hynes’s starts against the Mountain Hawks, said that that the root of Hynes’s consistency on the mound has been the southpaw’s even-keel mentality.
“Not getting too high or too low,” Ekart said of Hynes’ personality. “It’s never the end of the world if they score a run and you’re never on top of the world when you strike all three out, so it’s finding a medium of being consistent, being a micromanager and keeping her body healthy.”
Hynes deflected any of her personal success from the weekend, instead directing credit to her teammates.
“They know that they have to support me with some runs,” Hynes said. “The defense has to be solid because giving up extra outs is tough when I have to pitch so much but they are all supportive of me, hitting and fielding-wise.”
Hynes helped herself at the plate throughout the weekend, hitting .375 with two RBI and two runs scored.
‘It felt great,” Hynes said. “Anyone in the lineup can score. We get on base and we were putting pressure on their defense so it just happened to be me at that time.”
Ekart said she believes that Hynes’s performance over the last week has been tremendous and crucial to the team’s success with both Russell and Akers out.
“She knows the predicament that we are in,” Ekart said. “She knows that if she can get those ground balls and fly balls, we’ll get those outs… She did a tremendous job, as she has been the whole last week.”
Gleason said she is extremely proud of the performance Hynes brought this week.
“She’s the fuel that’s leading us right now,” Gleason said. “She’s rising to the occasion and I’m really proud of her. We don’t know when those other two are coming back and she’s got to do it.”