Softball, Sports

Softball storms past Brown University, ends losing skid

Lauren Hynes didn't pitch against Brown, but did cross home plate twice. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA WIMLEY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Lauren Hynes didn’t pitch against Brown, but did cross home plate twice. PHOTO BY ALEXANDRA WIMLEY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

No matter which pitcher Brown University put in the circle Wednesday afternoon against the Boston University softball team, the Terriers consistently found ways to score, taking down the Bears 7-3 and ending their six-game losing skid.

While neither team got things off the ground in the first two frames, senior first baseman Lauren Hynes’ leadoff walk in the third set the proceedings forward for BU (12-18, 0-3 Patriot League). Two batters after Hynes, junior left fielder Moriah Connolly, sophomore center fielder Jilee Schanda and junior designated player Gabi Martinez produced three singles in a row, with the latter two driving in the first runs of the game.

With several RBIs suffered, Brown (16-12) pulled starter Leah Nakashima before the game was three innings old. Her replacement, junior Gina Chieffallo, fared no better against BU’s hot bats. In the next inning, it was Connolly and Martinez again coming up big, with the former driving in sophomore right fielder Emma Wong.

Martinez has been impressive at the plate as of late, and BU head coach Ashley Waters said the junior has worked on her mental game in order to reach new heights.

“There are ups and downs and the mental part is huge, so she’s really worked on that component of her game, which I think has transferred over,” Waters said. “But she has a lot of confidence at the plate right now, so we feel confident about the way she’s swinging the bat and hope it continues.”

Against Brown’s new pitcher, freshman catcher Alex Heinen looked as though she was going to join the RBI party in the fourth. Her hit through the left side was ruled an error, though it still plated two runs.

Waters was pleased with how the entire lineup performed, making particular note of the team’s low strikeout total. BU was struck out just six times against Brown’s pitchers and four of those strikeouts came from junior shortstop Brittany Younan. While Younan had a rough day at the plate, Waters praised the rest of the lineup’s ability to “pick her up.”

“We drilled the ball, we hit it hard, we made things happen, which is exactly what we have to do,” Waters said. “We had six strikeouts, which is great. If we can limit that, we have to make plays and that’s when we score our runs.”

While the Terriers’ bats created a mighty cushion for senior pitcher Melanie Russell, she hardly needed it through the first few innings. The Bears bat .312 as a team with seven starters averaging over .300, yet they popped out 21 times. After surrendering a hit to Brown’s leadoff batter in the first, Russell kept the Bears hitless until the sixth inning.

But in that inning, Brown began to whittle away at the Terriers’ lead. After a leadoff single from junior Lauren Hanna, freshman Ashli Lotz drove in Brown’s first run of the game. Lotz came around to score later in the frame thanks to a triple from third baseman Christina Andrews.

Russell, however, bounced back and averted further damage. Sophomore third baseman Kaitlin Sahlinger hit one over the left field wall in the top of the seventh for her first home run on the season.

Following the Terriers’ narrow 5-4 loss to Marist College last week, Waters expressed concern about the pitching staff’s ability to close out games. Regarding the victory over Brown, she said the offense helped Russell regroup after the sixth to shut the door.

“We kept putting continued pressure on the offense,” Waters said. “[Melanie] did a great job today. Even in that inning where they were able to score a few runs, I think she did a good job of executing her pitches. So overall I think it was a good start and a good finish.”

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