NCAA, Softball, Sports

Unfinished business for the BU softball team

Last season, the Boston University softball team won the Patriot League and reached the national tournament, finishing with a 52-10 record, including a stretch of 28 consecutive wins.

Sophomore infielder Brooke Deppiesse (4) swings at a pitch. The Boston University softball team won the Patriot League and reached the national tournament last season. HUI-EN LIN/DFP PHOTOGRAPHER

But after failing to advance out of regionals, losing twice to Virginia Tech, the Terriers walked away wanting more.

This year, the team’s core is the same, and so are the expectations.

BU was picked to win their conference and received all three preseason awards. Player of the year: senior infielder Kayla Roncin, defensive player of the year: graduate infielder Caitlin Coker and graduate pitcher of the year: Allison Boaz.

While the team is grateful to be recognized, none of it matters to them.

“The focus is on what’s ahead … not what we’ve accomplished,” head coach Ashley Waters said. “We’re scrappy and unsatisfied.”

The Terriers are returning their leadership group — four graduate student players in Coker, Boaz, Audrey Sellers, and utility player Lizzy Avery.

It was an easy decision for the four, who are all pursuing master’s degrees, according to Boa

“When they left the field last year, prior to even breaking out of the huddle, they had goals of, ‘We need to come back, we need to be better than this,’” Waters said.

They take pride in being voices in the locker room as they look to instill in the younger players what was instilled in them.

“We have a standard of excellence that we came into, so we’re trying to leave the same thing behind [and] leave the program better than we found it,” Coker said.

Those high standards that Waters engrains in her team has left her on the cusp of history. Entering her ninth season, she is one win shy of becoming the University’s all-time winningest softball coach, with 271 victories to her name.

“I’ve had the most incredible experience, but I’m not going to attribute that to wins,” Waters said. “It’s the trips, the kids, the laughs, the everyday nonsense.”

The pitching staff will look the same this year, headlined by Boaz, who was the conference pitcher of the year the past two seasons. Right behind her is sophomore pitcher Kasey Ricard, who won conference rookie of the year last year. Avery rounds out the rotation that will look to keep hitters at bay all season.

After posting a combined 1.73 earned-run average last season, the group is determined to come back stronger this time around.

“We all have our own strengths,” Boaz said. “Lizzy and I have our drop balls, I have my changeup and Kasey’s a predominantly rise-throwing pitcher.”

It’s the perfect pairing, as Waters puts it. 

“The three of them together make the most unique, perfect staff,” she said. “They each bring something different, yet they all have such amazing talents.”

Opponents know what they are going to get when facing Boaz and Ricard, but Waters expects a more confident Avery in her final year, and she expects a bounce back season.

“I feel like she goes under the radar,” Waters said. “I genuinely believe you’re going to see her name a lot more this year.”

The three support one another and compete for each other, Waters said. She said she believes they are a force and that they are one of the strongest pitching staffs in the country.

On the other side of the ball, the Terriers will run back the top of their order in seniors Roncin, Coker and outfielder Lauren Keleher.

They’ve been dominant their entire collegiate careers, especially last season, posting batting averages of .430 for Roncin, .395 for Keleher and .389 for Coker.

Waters puts it simply: They’re the best top three BU softball has ever had.

“I’ve never seen more talent at the top of the order than what those three have been able to do year in and year out on a consistent basis,” Waters said.

Yes, Keleher, Roncin, and Coker are the engine of the team’s success, but from top to bottom, the Terriers are littered with talent.

“I have three players of the year, three defensive players of the year and three pitchers of the year,” Waters said. “I’m so fortunate, and really lucky.”

At the end of the day, firepower only gets you so far. Looking back, Waters doesn’t think her team was as prepared as they needed before heading to regionals. The team still needs to improve to be able to accomplish their goal of winning a regional.

It’s about nailing down the little things. Taking the season game by game, each game pitch by pitch and remaining locked in every day.

Waters said the team is hungry. They want it — bad.

“There’s totally unfinished business,” Coker said.

The Terriers have been quietly working all winter, improving, and patiently waiting for opening day. They won’t have to wait much longer. They take on Binghamton University in the Frank Griffin Classic on Feb. 9 in DeLand, Florida.

It’s the core’s last ride, and Waters just wants to enjoy this team while she still can.

“Honestly, I think I’m going to sit back and enjoy getting to watch these girls play in their final days,” Waters said.

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