After opening the season with three road trips to play 19 games in four tournaments in less than a month, the Boston University softball team might be glad to be home – but not so glad to come back to the typical New England weather.
Just a day after being welcomed back from a 10-day road trip in Florida by Monday’s wintry mix on the first full day of spring, BU (12-7) will take to its home field for the first time all season in a game against Harvard University.
However, according to BU coach Shawn Rychcik, the weather and field conditions may actually be an advantage. A tarp was on the field Monday, so the conditions should not be too sloppy, but Rychcik said it will be a welcomed change of pace from the dry, dusty fields the team played on in Florida.
“We played on some really fast infields, so I think we’re actually looking forward to the balls giving us a truer hop than those dry hops we were getting down there,” Rychcik said. “We have to believe it’ll be slower than what we’ve seen the last couple of weeks.”
Harvard (8-8) is fresh off a road trip of its own that saw it go 1-4 in the San Diego Classic, though the Crimson did manage to salvage the tourney with a 1-0 over San Diego State University thanks to a masterful pitching performance by Rachel Brown. Brown pitched a complete game with 15 strikeouts while giving up just one hit for her seventh win of the season.
The Crimson ace will likely get the start on the mound today against the Terriers.
“Rachel Brown throws pretty well, and I’m sure we’ll get her tomorrow,” Rychcik said. “Usually they play us tough and we have some really good games, so I wouldn’t expect anything different going into [Tuesday].”
In a pair of exhibition games in early October, the Terriers went 1-1 against Harvard and sophomore first baseman Chelsea Kehr’s RBIs were key in the lone win.
Harvard’s team batting average (.273) and slugging percentage (.380) are slightly better than BU’s (.259 and .350, respectively); but if there is one thing the Crimson do not do, it is take walks. In 16 games this season, it has drawn just 31 free passes this year, compared to BU’s 74 BB in 19 games.
The leaders in Harvard’s lineup are second baseman Ellen Macadam and third baseman/designated hitter Kasey Lange. Macadam leads the team in batting with a .418 average to go with three home runs and six RBIs, while Lange is batting .378 with one home run and 12 RBIs.
Lange – just a freshman – is one of Harvard’s recent recruits that Rychcik mentioned several times.
“It’s always an interesting game,” Rychcik said of Harvard, who BU traditionally plays every spring. “They have had pretty good recruits the last couple of years, they’ve had some quality kids, and they have some talent, so they’re probably similar to what we’ve faced.”
Though Harvard’s record stands at an unimpressive .500, Rychcik does not put much stock into wins and losses early in the season.
“Teams are playing better teams, lesser teams, they’re running into number one starters, number three starters, so it’s really hard to break it all down as far as if they’re good or not good,” Rychcik said.
The Terriers might have to manage without redshirt freshman outfielder Jayme Mask, who was hurt during the team’s most recent road trip. Rychcik said Mask visited the trainer on Monday, and would be a game-time decision on Tuesday.
“We’re going to be smart about it, though,” Rychcik said. “With this being a non-conference game and knowing that it’s a bone bruise, we might give her a little more time to rest. We’ll be careful.”