Fresh off a 5-0 victory over cross-town rival Boston College, the Boston University softball team came home Thursday for a home-opening twin bill against the University of Rhode Island. After getting off to slow starts in both games, the Terriers exploded offensively in the middle innings to run away with the pair, 6-3 and 5-1.
‘Anytime you leave the ball park with two wins, you’re happy,’ BU coach Shawn Rychcik said.
In the first game, sophomore pitcher Kelley Engman pitched a complete game, allowing zero earned runs. The three Rhode Island runs, all scored in the third inning, came after Engman made an error. Senior left fielder Shayne Lotito led the Terriers offensively, going 4-for-4 from the leadoff spot.
But early on, the Terriers appeared miffed by Rhode Island starter Catherine Smith’s pitch speed, swinging at balls out of the zone and failing to work counts. Smith was throwing approximately 50 mph, while most college softball pitchers throw at an average of 65 mph.
‘When you see someone throwing softer, you think it’s going to be easier to hit,’ Rychcik said. ‘But you need to make sure it’s your pitch.’
Following Rhode Island’s three-run third, the Terriers took back the lead for good with a five-run fourth. The Terriers turned to small ball when the first two batters ‘-‘- freshman Erica Casacci and Lotito ‘-‘- reached on bunts. After a successful double steal, sophomore center fielder April Setterlund hit a rope over the center fielder’s head to the wall, knocking in both runners.
‘You can’t score three or four runs in an inning until the people in front get on,’ Rychcik said. ‘Their speed put us in scoring position immediately and dictated what we could do.’
Senior Melissa Dubay followed up Setterlund’s hit with a double of her own, bringing home the right fielder.
Senior catcher Christy Leath capped the rally with a two-run bomb that landed on the netting of the batting cage over the left-field wall.
‘I like to see our offense score in more than one inning,’ Rychcik said. ‘But it was important to come back with a lot of runs after giving up a lot.’
‘The longer a team stays in the game, the more they think they can win,’ Rychcik said. ‘When a team that isn’t supposed to be in there is still there, they gain confidence that they normally wouldn’t have.’
In Game Two, Lotito set the pace early with a grinding at-bat to lead off the bottom of the first for the Terriers. After working the count to 2-2, Lotito fouled off four-consecutive two-strike pitches. And with a full count, she hit an infield single through short.
She then stole second and third and scored on an overthrow.
‘Anybody with a bunch of speed forces the other team to make a play,’ Rychcik said. ‘Getting ahead earlier allows us to continue putting pressure on.’
After allowing an early run, junior pitcher Megan Currier settled down to register scoreless softball the rest of the way. She stayed true to a dominant fastball, keeping it up and in on batters en route to strikeouts at key times.
In the top of the sixth, Rhode Island loaded the bases with two outs for junior Jackie Kampmeier. But in an unorthodox move, Rhode Island coach Eric Layton brought the last game’s starting pitcher, Catherine Smith, off the bench to pinch-hit.
Currier struck out Smith to strand three runners and end the Rhode Island threat.
‘It’s always nice to start off the season winning at home,’ Rychcik said. ‘But home-field advantage isn’t quite the same in softball as it is in other sports.’