NCAA, Softball, Sports

Pitching shines as softball sweeps home opener

The Boston University softball team played its first home games of the season after a month of tournaments, sweeping the Merrimack College Warriors (6-8) 10-2 and 10-0 in a doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon at the BU Softball Field. 

Junior pitcher Lizzy Avery pitched the 26th no-hitter in program history in the second game, highlighting the impressive pitching performances by the Terriers in the doubleheader.

softball doubleheader against Merrimack
A member of the Boston University softball team bats during the game against Merrimack College. The Terriers swept the Warriors 10-2 and 10-0 in a doubleheader March 23, in the team’s first home games of the season. SAM BETSKO/DFP STAFF

“We traditionally play really well at home. So it’s pretty special for us to actually have a chance to be out here and represent BU and get a chance to be on our own dirt,” head coach Ashley Waters said postgame.

The Terriers got off to a strong start in game one. Junior pitcher Allison Boaz, after giving up a leadoff walk, retired the side to send the Terriers up to bat. BU junior infielder Caitlin Coker hit a leadoff single past a diving shortstop before moving to second on a wild pitch. Then, sophomore outfielder Kayla Roncin drove Coker home to give the Terriers a 1-0 lead, before BU stranded two batters to end the inning.

Boaz once again retired the side after allowing the leadoff batter on. In the bottom half of the inning, the Terriers tacked on two more runs after senior infielder Bella Gargicevich-Almeida hit an RBI double down the third base line, and then came around to score on a double-steal attempt that gave the Terriers a 3-0 lead through two.

The Warriors battled back with a base hit and a walk against Boaz, and cashed in when BU made an error while trying to turn a double play, allowing the Warriors to pick up a run and cut the Terriers’ lead to 3-1 midway through the third.

However, the BU offense was too much for the Warriors. The Terriers worked the bases loaded before graduate student outfielder Jen Horita drove in two more with an RBI single, although the Terriers left the bases loaded to end the fourth up 5-1.

In the top of the fifth, Boaz struggled to put the Warriors away, giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases before being replaced by Avery, who was able to control the damage, only giving up a run on a single by Merrimack senior first baseman Jenna Wike. Avery struck out two and got a force out at home to hold the Terriers lead at 5-2. 

“[Boaz and Avery] have helped each other the entire preseason, so it makes no difference now that we’re back home it’s going to be those two arms and you know hopefully they can kind of bail each other out of jams but also shine when they have their moment,” Waters said.

The Terriers picked up one more run in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Gargicevich-Almeida before Avery struck out the side looking at the top of the sixth.  

The Terriers put the game away in the sixth inning, scoring four runs on an RBI double by senior infielder Nicole Amodio, a RBI single by senior outfielder Emily Gant, and a RBI triple by sophomore outfielder Lauren Keleher gave the Terriers a 10-2 lead, invoking the eight-run mercy rule and giving them the win for the first game.

After a brief break, the Terriers and Avery took the field again. Avery continued to be dominant in the circle, striking out the side looking in the first inning, before going on to retire the next nine batters, including five more strikeouts. She had a perfect game through four innings.

“I feel like that’s the biggest jinx in baseball and softball, but I did [think about the possibility of a perfect game], not from other people but mainly from myself. I looked at the scoreboard and I was like, no you can think about it,” Avery said.

The Terriers’ offense stayed hot during the second game. An RBI single by Amodio broke the scoring open in the second inning, and then the offense exploded in the third inning, beginning with an RBI bunt single by Horita followed by a two-run single by Roncin, and Amodio’s second RBI of the game to put the Terriers up 5-0.

The Terriers put the nail in the coffin in the fourth inning, posting five more runs on the board. Sophomore infielder Kate Pryor stole home on a double steal to make it 6-0 followed by an RBI double by Gant to make it 7-0. The Terriers loaded the bases before senior outfielder AJ Huerta-Leipner cleared them to make it 10-0 Terriers, giving the Terriers the eight-run lead necessary for their second mercy-rule win of the day.

With the game decided, all attention turned to Avery’s bid for the ninth perfect game in BU history. With no outs in the top of the fifth, Wike hit a ball into left field that hit off the left fielder’s glove and allowed Merrimack to reach base for the first time in the game. The play was scored as an error on BU, and kept Avery’s bid for a no-hitter alive even though her hopes of a perfect game were dashed. Avery struck out the last three batters to claim the no-hitter — the program’s first at home since 2014.

Avery finished the day with a combined seven innings pitched, one hit, 15 strikeouts and zero walks.

“Avery just had her stuff today. She looks really good. She looked sharp. So I think she felt good checking the zone. She was spinning the ball really well. So, it made sense that she had the outcomes that she did,” Waters said.

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