Playing in its final year in the America East Conference in 2013, the Boston University softball team never really hit its stride, finishing with just 21 wins. Though just a year ago, that season seems like a distant memory, as the 2014 Terriers have now won a season-high 10 games in a row after weekend wins against Harvard University and Lafayette College and sit 11 games over .500.
Thursday, sophomore pitcher Lauren Hynes had the task of toeing the circle for the Terriers (29-18, 11-4 Patriot League) against the Crimson (28-13), a team that came in with an 18-game winning streak. Harvard’s offense has been a force all season long, boasting a .281 batting average.
For the first six innings of the contest, Hynes befuddled the Crimson bats. The sophomore allowed just one hit and two walks during her time in the circle. Harvard did put the ball in play, striking out just twice against Hynes, but did not advance a runner past second base.
“I think [the key] was Lauren Hynes on the mound,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “She pitched a tremendous game against a team that had an 18-game win streak, hadn’t lost since. March 21 and she one-hit them. I think that was the whole key to the key.”
The Terriers could not do much on the offensive side, either, in the first four frames, with pitcher Laura Ricciardone keeping BU off of the scoreboard. The complexion of the game changed in the fifth when Ricciardone was replaced by freshman Taylor Cabe. Freshman third baseman Brittany Younan was able to drive in two runners with a two-run single to give the Terriers a 2-0 lead.
A seventh-inning home run brought the Crimson to within one run, but sophomore pitcher Melanie Russell buckled down and closed out the game to secure the Terrier win and her second save of the year.
“The other key to the game offensively was that we knew that their pitcher liked to get ahead and so we were more aggressive at the plate and I think that boded well in our favor,” Gleason said. “We only had six hits, but we hit the ball hard and we got runs when we needed to.”
After a pitchers’ duel to start the weekend, the BU bats exploded for 10 runs on Saturday against a struggling Lafayette (10-32, 4-14 Patriot League) team to open up a three-game set. Russell got the ball for the Terriers and allowed a first-inning run to give the Leopards an early 1-0 advantage.
The Terriers topped that one run though, scoring six runs of their own in the first. Senior shortstop Brittany Clendenny drove in senior right fielder Jayme Mask with the first run. After the score was 2-0, a Leopard error allowed the inning to continue and for the Terriers to tack on four more runs. Center fielder Moriah Connolly ended the barrage with a two-RBI triple to make it 6-1.
From there, Russell settled in and did not allow another run to score. BU would continue its onslaught in the second when Clendenny drilled a two-run homer to give the Terriers an 8-1 edge.
BU clinched the mercy-rule victory in the sixth when Clendenny came through with her second two-run blast of the game to seal the 10-1 win.
“We, like any team, offensively go in waves, but it’s been different people stepping up throughout the year and especially in the last couple of weeks,” Gleason said. “You never know who it’s going to be at the plate, whether it is Brittany Clendenny, [junior second baseman] Emily Felbaum, [senior catcher] Amy Ekart, it’s been somebody different every time.”
Unlike Saturday’s blowout, the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader dragged on into extra innings. Hynes started the game for BU but just went two innings before being relieved by freshman pitcher Makinna Akers.
The game remained scoreless until the fourth when sophomore Allison Brown hit a solo home for Lafayette. BU would answer back in the sixth courtesy of the red-hot bat of Clendenny. The shortstop came through with another homer, this one of the solo variety, tying the game up at one apiece.
In the bottom of the ninth, BU got the decisive second run home. Felbaum started the rally with a leadoff single. After a sacrifice bunt, a walk and a fielder’s choice, Mask came through with a hit to right-center field to walk the Terriers off with the win.
With the strong pitching of Russell and timely BU hitting, the Terriers completed the weekend sweep over the Leopards on Sunday. BU scored its first run in the third off of a Connolly sacrifice fly that brought home Ekart. But first baseman Kristyn Marinelli tied things quickly in the fourth with a solo homer to knot the game up.
As it had done all weekend, the BU offense came through when it mattered most, and with run-scoring hits from freshman designated hitter Gabi Martinez and Mask, the Terriers took a 3-1 lead. Russell held on to the two-run lead and finished the contest with a complete-game win to help the Terriers win their 10th in a row.
Gleason said the key to the streak has been the positive mentality of the team.
“[The team doesn’t] put pressure on themselves and they don’t think too much,” Gleason said. “That was the key, just all weekend, the confidence and that we’d eventually put some things together.”