On Thursday, the University of Connecticut avenged an early-season loss to the Boston University softball team, winning an extra-inning nail-biter, 2-1, in Storrs, Conn. This weekend, BU has a chance to repay an even more poignant debt when it hosts the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the team that knocked the Terriers out of last year’s America East Tournament.
‘That’s a different team in a different year,’ BU coach Shawn Rychcik said. ‘We’re a different team in a different year.’
The Terriers swept the Retrievers three times in as many chances last year, before falling in the tournament.
‘We’ve put up runs against them in the past,’ Rychcik said. ‘We’ve done very well with them offensively.’
The Retrievers come into the game with a 22-11 record, 3-1 in the America East. Their lone conference loss came Saturday in the first of three against the University of Maine. They came back to win the final two games of the series.
On the other hand, the Terriers (20-10) have dropped their last three, scattered amongst two cancellations. Two of the three defeats came against Big East schools Providence College and UConn, and the other came five days ago against a league foe, the University at Albany.
Each game against the more prominent Big East schools was played with bitter closeness. Thursday’s game against UConn took eight innings to decide. UConn junior Justyne Roy singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the frame. BU’s only run came when freshman Emily Roesch doubled in sophomore Caitlin Rentler in the second inning.
‘It would’ve been nice to win today,’ Rychcik said. ‘It would’ve been nice to win yesterday, but it doesn’t change our attitude.’
Based on the clamor of the team bus, team morale has not been observably harmed.
‘We’re excited,’ Rychcik said. ‘We played really well against a pretty good Big East team, and we beat them earlier [in the year].’
Losses in non-conference games don’t affect positioning in the standings at all. According to Rychcik, the Terriers don’t plan on ramping up the intensity any more for their re-entrance into the conference schedule.
This year’s Retrievers are led by junior first baseman Amanda Fefel, who is the team’s batting leader, carrying a .473 average. Her six home runs double the stats of anyone else on the team, and her 30 RBIs lead all other players by double digits. Overall, six Retrievers are batting over .300.
Despite the magnitude of UMBC’s offensive production, Rychcik doesn’t anticipate a very wide-open game.
‘We’ve played a lot of high-scoring games ‘-‘- 10-7, 9-8,’ Rychcik said. ‘I don’t see this game playing out that way.’
Terrier pitching validates Rychcik’s prediction of a low-scoring game. Senior Cassidi Hardy, last week’s America East Pitcher of the Week, has already registered two no-hitters and six shutouts this year. Overall, she is 9-4 with a 1.28 ERA. Junior Megan Currier, who scattered seven hits over 7.2 innings and allowed two earned runs against UConn, is 6-4 with a 2.19 ERA. Sophomore Kelley Engman rounds out the top three with at 5-2 record and a 3.61 ERA.
The Retrievers counter with aces Stephani Weigman and Fefel, who can handle the stick as well. Weigman is 13-8 with a 2.24 ERA and Fefel is 8-2 with a 2.82 ERA.
Despite the tough competition, Rychcik feels good about the team’s makeup coming in.
‘I think we’re playing really well, and the team chemistry is great,’ he said. ‘These games are crucial in the league.’