The Boston University softball team will play in the Patriot League Championship round with a trip to the NCAA tournament on the line after defeating the U.S. Military Academy by a score of 8-0 Saturday morning in Bethlehem, Pa. The contest, which qualified as a run-rule victory, ended after six innings.
“Our whole mindset coming into the Patriot League was to just make our mark,” said BU coach Kathryn Gleason. “We were fortunate enough that they voted us to finish second, but we just wanted to come in like the other teams in the BU athletic department who made their mark and came home with trophies.”
The two stars of the game for the Terriers (34-19, 13-5 Patriot League) were sophomore pitcher Melanie Russell and senior first baseman Chelsea Kehr.
Russell continued her recent streak of dominance, which included a perfect game against Bucknell University less than a week ago, by striking out six batters to go along with six scoreless innings.
“Mel has been our go-to in these situations,” Gleason said. “We’ll make the decision on who’s pitching later today or tomorrow depending on who we play but she’s been doing a great job for us and our other pitchers are ready to go.”
The San Diego native has only let up five runs in her last 34 innings pitched and has lowered her season ERA to 1.95 while also compiling 103 strikeouts in that time. Russell leads the team in both of those categories as well as leading the conference in ERA.
Kehr supplied the early fireworks for the Terriers, delivering a three-run home run in the first inning that scored senior outfielder Jayme Mask and senior shortstop Brittany Clendenny.
“Our whole mindset was to attack from the beginning,” Gleason said. “Jayme getting on and Brittany walking and for Chelsea to hit a three-run homer, it’s a big field, right to straight away center, that was a big momentum boost.”
The home run was Kehr’s first of the year. The Florence, N.J., native was not finished, as she drove in Clendenny again with a double at the top of the third inning, bringing her RBI total on the year up to 30.
The Terriers added three more runs in the third thanks to an RBI bunt by junior second baseman Emily Felbaum and a two-run double by freshman designated player Gabi Martinez.
The Terriers added one more run in the sixth inning thanks a sacrifice fly by Mask that drove in Martinez. Russell allowed one hit in the bottom of the sixth but did not allow the Black Knights (23-27, 9-9 Patriot League) to score, as she put the finishing touches on her complete-game shutout.
“Even though it was a short game, it really wasn’t, it was more of a long game,” Gleason said. “Between all the pitches thrown and the effort used I think it had the same effect on our players as a full game.”
Even though this might have felt like a full game, the Terriers should not be affected, as they have the highest-scoring offense in the Patriot League as well as having the second lowest ERA, which allows them to have more options in their lineup.
“Just being able to switch things around is a great thing for us,” Gleason said. “It’s definitely given us an edge this year and has really helped us when we needed a change in things.”
The Terriers will go for the Patriot League title Saturday at noon and will play the winner of the Black Knights and Bucknell (22-25, 10-8 Patriot League) game.
“The team thinking is just one pitch, one inning, one game at a time, same as it’s been all year,” Gleason said. “They really bought into that and have followed it all year so we’re going to stick with that.”