After a 29-23 overall record and a 15-6 conference record that was good for second place in America East last season, the Boston University softball team will look to build off last year’s success and perhaps take home the one thing that has eluded coach Shawn Rychcik during his five-year tenure at BU: an America East championship and the automatic NCAA Tournament bid that comes with it. With an insightful coaching staff, award-winning pitching staff and experienced position players, the Terriers could be poised to accomplish that ultimate goal this season.
Starting hurlers redshirt junior Cassidi Hardy, junior Megan Currier and sophomore Kelley Engman return this season to make up the Terriers’ pitching staff, which has been strong during Rychcik’s tenure. All three have been conference honorees over their careers.
Hardy and Currier are both Terrier veterans and will be crucial to the team’s success this season.
Hardy will lead BU’s pitching staff, and for good reason. Hardy is a two-time America East All-Conference Second Team honoree. In her 27 appearances last year, the Jupiter, Fla. native held batters to a .206 batting average and had six shutouts in 14 wins. She finished her season with a 3.17 ERA and 130 strikeouts. Hardy’s season-ending injury in 2007 did not seem to have any effect on her standout sophomore season.’ ‘
Currier, the 2007 America East Pitcher of the Year, had three shutouts and seven complete games last season, ending her year with a record of 9-9. In 25 appearances, she had one save, a 4.97 ERA and struck out 40 batters.
Engman made a name for herself in her freshman season as a starter last year. In 25 appearances, Engman went 6-6 with a 4.42 ERA, 53 strikeouts and two shutouts.
The Terriers can certainly look forward to a good season if all three of their starting pitchers keep up this same level of ability.’ ‘
BU had a young roster last season with 10 underclassmen, meaning that all of those youthful players are now seasoned veterans ready to prove themselves as one of the nation’s leading squads once again. Senior catcher Christy Leath and senior third baseman Brooke Hudson return this season to lead the team as co-captains.
Last season, the Terriers’ infield was one of the best in the nation with a .972 fielding percentage and 26 double plays, leading the America East in both categories.
If senior Melissa Dubay replicates her success from last season, the Terriers can count the shortstop as an offensive force in their lineup. The America East All-Conference First Team honoree had a .351 batting average and 28 runs. She had eight doubles, seven home runs and 31 RBIs. If that was not enough, Dubay also recorded a 20-game hit streak that spanned two months, helping her earn honors as a TPS Louisville Slugger All-Northeast Region Second Team player.’ ‘ ‘
BU can count on Leath, who has been consistent for more than three seasons as the backstop, behind the plate. The senior is a two-time America East All-Conference Second Team honoree and the 2007 AE Player of the Year. In 2008, she drew a program-record 37 walks, batted .240 and had 16 RBIs in 51 games.
At the hot corner, Hudson supplemented her defensive play with an impressive offensive performance last season. In 52 games, she had 37 hits, 17 RBIs and a team-leading 12 doubles.’ ‘ ‘
Manning left field for BU this season will be the team’s speedster, senior Shayne Lotito. Last season, Lotito led the team in stolen bases with 18 and has already proven that she brought her PF Flyers again this season with five steals in last weekend’s San Jose State Super Series.
In center, BU boasts last year’s America East Rookie of the Year, sophomore April Setterlund, who was statistically BU’s best hitter with a .354 average and tied Hudson for the team lead in doubles with 12. Once on base, the sophomore proved last season that she can steal as well, coming in second on the team in steals with 14.
Junior Rachel Moeller will roam right field, where she’ll be able to showcase her strong arm in defensive situations. Although offense may not be a point of strength for the junior (only 13 hits in 25 games), she showed flashes of brilliance at the plate, including two 2-for-3 performances last season, with a home run and four RBIs each time.
Senior Nora Militz (.211, 12 RBIs) and freshman Christina Valdes will serve as utility players in the outfield this season.
Under Rychcik, the Terriers have seen an all-around resurgence. The former United States Olympic Committee Athlete of the Year in men’s softball took a losing program ‘-‘- 26-32 the year before Rychcik took the head spot ‘-‘- and turned it into a force to be reckoned within America East. In his first season, the Terriers finished with a 26-19-1 (14-4) record and ended the year second in the conference. Since that time, Rychcik has gone 118-58-1 over his five years at BU, good for a .581 winning percentage.
When you combine Rychcik’s success with his offensive prowess, as the Terriers have consistently ranked at or near the top in all offensive categories since his arrival, it should be no surprise that he was named to the 2009 Women’s National Team coaching pool. There, he will be responsible for the training and preparation of the national squad for the next four years.
Assistant coach Jen Deering will handle the pitching coach duties for the Terriers. Deering, who is entering her third season at BU, has earned her own accolades over the years as well, including a national championship as a pitcher for the University of California-Berkeley in 2002.