With only five games remaining this season, the Boston University softball team set itself up for a high seed in the upcoming Patriot League Tournament with a weekend sweep of Lafayette College. The three wins against the Leopards extended the Terriers’ recent success, as the team now has won 10 games in a row.
The Terriers’ (29-18, 11-4 Patriot League) six victories against Patriot League opponents Colgate University and Lafayette (10-32, 4-14 Patriot League) have been a major reason why BU holds the second-best record in the conference behind Lehigh University.
BU coach Kathryn Gleason said she believes a wide range of improvements has led to the team’s recent success.
“Our offense has been consistent from day one,” Gleason said. “Having one through nine being able to come through in any key moment. It’s somebody else each and every single day and that’s a big strength and our defense has been strong. Our pitching staff, each one of them brings something a little bit different, and that’s a huge strength of ours that we can have three different pitchers that can hold the other team.”
Through their winning streak, the Terriers have outscored their opponents 64-15, thanks in large part to the return of sophomore pitcher Melanie Russell and freshman pitcher Makinna Akers. The two hurlers have helped limit the workload of sophomore pitcher Lauren Hynes, who leads the Terriers with 152.1 innings pitched on the year.
Russell pitched in Sunday’s finale against the Leopards, going the distance en route to the victory. She allowed just three hits, one run and struck out nine in the Terriers’ 10th consecutive victory. Akers pitched in relief of Hynes in the first game of the doubleheader. The freshman went seven innings and struck out seven before the Terriers won in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Even with the pitchers’ success, Gleason said the team has not reached its peak.
“I don’t think we’re playing our best yet,” Gleason said. “I don’t think we have been. We just keep building and building and building and getting better each game and building momentum and I think that’s been a key going into the tournament. We still have a lot of games left.”
Even with a slow start to the season that saw the Terriers sit at .500 in mid-April, the team’s chemistry and tenacity played a major role in righting the ship during the final stretch of the 2014 campaign.
“It’s been the utmost importance,” Gleason said of the team’s chemistry. “It’s a long season, 56 games, it’s a long time to be inside in January and February and most of March. This season has brought challenges with the weather and they just respond.
“If you don’t have it off the field, it’s hard to have it on the field. They enjoy each other’s company, they have fun and I think that completely carries over onto the field because that’s how they are. They’re loose and they support each other.”
Despite the Terriers’ recent success, Gleason said she thinks there are still improvements to be made moving forward in order for the team to best position itself in the Patriot League Tournament toward a potential bid in the NCAA Tournament.
“There was a couple times this weekend with runners in scoring position where we popped the ball up or we don’t get that key hit, ground ball, line drive into the outfield that we need,” Gleason said. “That’s something that we’ll constantly have to work on and our pitchers, getting ahead and keeping people off base and consistently playing good defense behind them so that’s a goal each and every game.”
While the team’s recent success is encouraging moving towards the playoffs, Gleason does not know what the team’s ceiling is. Ultimately, the team is solely focused on winning and playing its brand of softball.
“The best thing about this team is how the team chemistry and how they fight for each other,” Gleason said. “They go out there and do everything for each other. Their team chemistry has been unbelievable and I think that carries over into the field. They fight for each other. They want to do so well for each other and then for the team and the program.”