After starting off the season 5-4, the Boston University softball team struggled in its two most recent tournaments in California: the San Diego Classic and the Long Beach State Tournament.
The Terriers (8-14) lost several close games as a result of blowing late-inning leads and failing to capitalize with runners on base. They went 1-4 in the San Diego Classic, which took place from March 3 to March 5. Pitching problems plagued BU, as it allowed 32 runs in five games. Looking back, BU head coach Ashley Waters feels that her team will use its experiences to get better for Patriot League play.
“Anytime you go out west, you’re going to be playing the best of the best,” Waters said. “They’re definitely higher caliber teams and competitiveness. The three wins we had were definitely good wins. A couple of other games, we were right there and just didn’t finish. For us, we call it preseason for a reason, we just do our best to get better and better each game.”
In the first game against San Jose State University, a 6-5 loss, freshman Kali Magane and senior Makinna Akers each allowed three runs in the first and second innings, respectively. BU nearly came back in the final frame, scoring three runs after being down 6-2, but its efforts fell just short.
The Terriers looked to build on a promising end to Friday afternoon’s game, but they regressed, losing in five innings via the mercy rule in their next two games. They fell 8-0 to San Diego State University on March 3 and 9-0 to Brigham Young University on March 4.
However, BU bounced back in its next game, a 3-0 win over University of San Diego, with junior Sydni Overly and Akers combining for a shutout.
In their final game against Miami University Ohio, the Terriers held a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning and were in prime position to end the tournament on a win streak. Miami (8-11) then rallied to score all nine of its runs in the sixth and held on for a 9-5 win.
Against top competition, Waters credited her pitchers for keeping her team in games.
“Kali Magane and Makinna Akers on the pitching have really held their own and kept us in games,” Waters said. “There’s obviously room for improvement and growth, but they’re going against some of the best hitters in the nation, so that’s a good sign for us.”
Before heading to Long Beach, BU made a brief stop in Los Angeles, where it split a two-game series against Loyola Marymount University.
The Terriers suffered in similar ways in Long Beach. In the first game, a 4-3 loss to Eastern Michigan University, BU was down 4-0 heading into the final frame. It scored two runs then had the bases loaded with no outs, but its next three batters went down in order with only one more run scoring.
In its second game, a 6-4 loss to California State University, Long Beach, BU was up 4-2 entering the bottom of the sixth. Overly proceeded to allow four runs in the inning, letting the lead slip away.
The Terriers suffered another heartbreaker March 10 against San Diego State (16-9). The game went back-and-forth and into extras before the Aztecs plated four runs in the top of the eighth. The Terriers nearly tied the game, but fell one run short and lost 11-10.
In its final three games, BU went 1-2, splitting two contests against California State University, Fullerton and falling to No. 10 University of California, Los Angeles.
Although the Terriers competed with bigger programs, they will need to capitalize on their scoring opportunities and hang on to leads as the season progresses.
“The best part about them is that they’re never out of it, they have a lot of fight, a lot of grit, and I think that’s something that’s really special, you can’t teach that,” Waters said. “Regardless of the score, they play hard every single inning. It’s [up to] us to figure out how we can do that inning one through seven rather than just coming back in the late innings of a game.”
Waters used each tournament as a trial run to experiment with new lineups and to try to find a winning formula.
“You try to figure out what works and what our best [lineup] is,” Waters said. “There’s a lot about changing the lineup and figuring things out, and you see mistakes and you learn from them. There’s things that we have to work on. You hope that you see all that in preseason, so we can focus on it now for a week and a half and get ourselves back to a good spot before we play Lehigh [University on March 25].”
Jordan Green contributed to the reporting of this article.