Softball, Sports

BU softball team falls to Lehigh, finishes as runner-up in Patriot League Tournament

Junior Jilee Schanda looks to send the Terriers into the NCAA tournament. PHOTO BY JUSTIN HAWK/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Although senior Makinna Akers gave up just one run while pitching 10.2 innings, the Boston University softball team dropped two games to Lehigh University in the Patriot League Championship round.

The Mountain Hawks (36-18, 16-2 Patriot League) captured their 14th conference title, and the Terriers (25-27, 14-3 Patriot League) finished as the runner-up for the seventh time in program history, and its first in the Patriot League since joining in 2013.

BU broke its 16 game conference winning streak during the first game on Sunday, but the Patriot League Tournament is played in double-elimination fashion. Lehigh forced a deciding second game on Sunday after defeating the Terriers 1-0 in the morning.

Despite ousting Lehigh 14-7 on Friday, the Terriers’ bats fell flat in Sunday’s first game.

Junior Kaitlin Sahlinger collected BU’s lone two hits, representing the only times a Terrier reached base. Lehigh amassed six hits against Akers. Akers took her 10th loss of the season, but lowered her season ERA to just 2.08.

“Makinna [Akers] did a great job commanding the zone,” BU head coach Ashley Waters said. “Lehigh is a great hitting team, so to keep them at bay by giving up just two runs in the first game then none in the second game, I thought Makinna had a great day. It’s nice to see a senior be on top of her game in her last game.”

Lehigh’s senior pitcher Christine Campbell secured her 21st win of the season, throwing 13 pitches per inning and using just 91 pitches to shut out the Terriers.

Mountain Hawks freshman Mary-Hannah Smith pushed across the game’s only run, allowing junior Rachel Timberman to score. Timberman walked on the first four pitches of the top of the third inning, and crossed the plate after Smith lined a single to left field.

In the second game, senior Moriah Connolly got the bats going early for the Terriers.

Connolly hit a leadoff single, stole second base and scored along with senior Gabi Martinez on sophomore Alex Heinen’s RBI single.

Connolly is now in sole possession of the single-season stolen base record in the Patriot League with 41.

Timberman tied up the game for Lehigh with a two-run double in the bottom of the second inning.

Freshman Kali Magane froze Lehigh senior Ashley Cole on a full count, but the Terriers surrendered two earned runs when Akers came in relief as Lehigh took a 4-2 lead.

Campbell picked up her 22nd win of the year for Lehigh, scattering eight hits across seven innings.

Following the contest, Campbell was named the Patriot League Tournament’s Most Valuable Player after giving up a mere three runs over 14 innings on the day.

Waters said she thought that the Terriers overall lacked clutch hitting.

“In the second game we got people on and Alex Heinen had a big hit in the first inning, but other than that we were really quiet,” Waters said. “I don’t know if it was a matter of pressing or just giving up on pitcher, but I give a lot of credit to Campbell from Lehigh. She did a really good job and it just was not our best offensive performance.”

Martinez had yet another RBI single in the top of the seventh, narrowing the gap to 4-3, but Heinen struck out and Lehigh took home the 2017 Patriot League crown, advancing to the NCAA tournament.

For BU, Martinez, Connolly and Akers were selected to the All-Tournament Team.

Despite the loss, Waters said the Terriers remained positive.

“It’s a lesson,” Waters said. “Everything in sports is a lesson. You win some, you lose some. You have to figure out how to win graciously and lose graciously, and I think for [our young players] it makes them hungry to get back to that spot. They felt the pain of losing and sometimes you have to do that to help create something great on the other end.”

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