NCAA, Softball, Sports

Softball drops Patriot League Championship game pair for fourth straight Patriot League title bid

Softball Team Talk
The Boston University softball team during a team talk before the game against Lehigh University. The Terriers lost both games on May 14, ending their Patriot League run. MAGGIE WEN/DFP STAFF

In the Patriot League Championship games, the Boston University softball team dropped both games against the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks (30-18-1, 15-3 PL) 1-0 and 4-1 to end the Terriers’ (40-17, 16-2 PL) season.

“Unfortunately, I think sometimes teams peak at the right time and they peak at the wrong time,” Terriers head coach Ashley Waters said. “I’m really proud of them. It was a remarkable year, … it’s certainly something that we’ll remember, but it just wasn’t our day.”

The Terriers, though playing on their own field, were the visiting team for the first game. In the top of the first, sophomore right fielder Lauren Keleher worked a nine pitch walk but was stranded on second as the Terriers recorded three straight outs.

Junior pitcher Allison Boaz took the circle for her third straight game of the tournament. She picked up right where she left off in the prior games, getting two easy ground balls to quickly retire the first two Mountain Hawk batters. She worked around a two-out single to get another ground ball and retire the side.

“She had an incredible, incredible year,” Waters said about the reigning Patriot League Pitcher of the Year. “You’re looking at someone that the best is yet to come.”

The Terriers’ woes with runners in scoring position continued in the second inning. Junior third baseman Caitlin Coker ripped a single over the glove of a leaping second baseman into right field. Coker showed off her speed with a stolen base to give the Terriers a runner on second, before a sacrifice fly moved her to third. With two outs, senior second baseman AJ Huerta-Leipner hit a deep fly ball to center field, but it was caught for the final out.

Despite Boaz giving up a single that was just out of the reach of a diving graduate student center fielder Jen Horita, the pitcher served two lazy fly balls to end the inning scoreless.

The Terriers were sent down 1-2-3 in the top of the third. In the bottom of the third, a slow ground ball to short allowed the Mountain Hawks’ hustling junior second baseman Josie Charles to reach safely for an infield single. Charles made her way around the diamond through a sac bunt and an overthrown ball that allowed her to race towards home to give the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 lead.

The Terriers looked to answer in the top of the fifth. Huerta-Leipner sent a rocket base hit back up the middle and a bunt by junior catcher Audrey Sellers moved her to second. With two outs, Keleher ripped a ball into the gap between center and right; however, the ball hung in the air a second too long as it was ran down by Mountain Hawk sophomore center fielder Brooke Cannon to end the inning — robbing Keleher of an extra base hit and the game tying RBI.

“We had runners on the entire day,” Waters said. “It was really hard to generate that last hit.”

The Terriers once again left runners stranded in the sixth. Horita slapped a single to left field to give the Terriers a lead off single. A Roncin bunt moved Horita to second but two soft groundouts ended the Terriers’ chance to tie the game in the sixth.

Boaz continued to keep the Terriers in it all the way. She got three ground balls to give the Terriers a chance to take the lead in the top of the seventh. She finished with 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 K, 0 BB and 0 ER.

“We have to support her a lot better,” Waters said.

However, the Terriers once again stranded runners in the seventh. Sophomore designated player Lauren Nett led off with a single and a deep fly ball by senior first baseman Nicole Amodio just missed leaving the park by a few feet and fell right into the right fielder’s glove for an out. Huerta-Leipner hit another ball deep into the gap near center field but it was once again run down by Cannon for an out. Sellers popped up too short to end the game and give the Mountain Hawks a 1-0 victory forcing a winner-take-all second game.

Boaz took the circle again after 81 pitches in the first game of the afternoon. On the first pitch of the next game at 2:15 p.m., Boaz worked a pop up to third for the first out. After giving up a single, Boaz snagged a rocket right back at her and threw over to first for the double play.

In the bottom of the first, Roncin hit a base hit to the left side — her 81st hit of the season to break the program’s all-time record. The Terriers were unable to do anything else, keeping the score at 0-0.

In the bottom of the second, senior left fielder Emily Gant worked a leadoff walk after a 13 pitch at bat, moving to second on a bunt, but she was stranded following a groundout for the third out.

“We had a lot of zeros pretty consistently throughout these four games,” Waters said. “When that is the case, it’s very difficult to win softball games.”

In the top of the third, the Mountain Hawks broke through and chased Boaz from the game. After back to back singles and a fielder’s choice, Mountain Hawk senior right fielder Jaelynn Chesson hit a ball into the trees for a three-run home run. The following at bat, Mountain Hawk senior designated player Addie Kittel hit a ball over the fence in center, giving the Mountain Hawks a 4-0 lead. Junior pitcher Lizzy Avery replaced Boaz and got the final out to end the Mountain Hawks rally.

“She was finally gassed.” Waters said on Boaz. “She missed the pitch and it went over the fence, followed up by another pitch.”

The Terriers tried to answer in the third and fourth inning but could not get much going. In the fifth, The Terriers looked to come to life. After an error and a base hit, the Terriers had first and second with one out. However, a short fly out and a groundout ended the inning and the Terriers left runners stranded.

Avery was able to hold the score her entire outing. She finished her only performance of the tournament with 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 6 Ks, and 0 ER.

“With [Boaz] and Avery coming back, that’s a really promising pitching staff,” Waters said.

The Terriers refused to give in and battled to the very last pitch. In the bottom of the seventh, Huerta-Leipner was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before moving to second on a wild pitch. A single by sophomore pinch hitter Kate Pryor allowed Huerta-Leipner to get all the way home to cut the Mountain Hawk lead to 4-1— and the Terriers’ first run of the day. That was all for the Terriers though, as Horita grounded out for the final out of the game and the season.

“Our offense kind of fell flat,” Waters said. “We weren’t really swinging the bats that well.”

The Terriers finished the season with a record of 40-17, their first 40-win season since 2012. They clinched another Patriot League regular season championship and played in their sixth straight Patriot League championship.

“This is probably my favorite team in seven years here,” Waters said tearfully. “Personality wise, character wise, player wise, they really were the full package.”

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