The Boston University softball team had played five conference games over the course of five days before Thursday’s cross-town matchup with Harvard University. But after winning their first four in the stretch, the Terriers dropped the final, 6-0, at the University of Maine. The sabbatical from conference offered much needed respite and recovery for the Terriers, and recover, they did, shutting out the Crimson, 3-0, at BU Field Thursday.
‘The reality is that we play in a tough conference, and you’re going to lose some games,’ BU coach Shawn Rychcik said. ‘To be able to bounce back and win an out-of-conference game the next day is the sign of a good team.’
The Terriers (25-11) were led by sophomore pitcher Kelley Engman, who threw her third shutout of the season. She scattered four hits over seven innings and struck out two. The win adjusted her season record to 7-2.
‘Kelley threw well,’ Rychcik said. ‘She had great control and command from the get-go.’
Harvard (19-10) starter Rachel Brown held the Terriers scoreless through the first two innings. But BU got to her in the third, and its catalyst came from an unexpected place – the bottom of the lineup. Senior third-baseman Brooke Hudson, batting only .192 this season, jumped on Brown’s 1-1 pitch, doubling to center. Freshman Erica Casacci followed with a dribbler down the third-base line, advancing Hudson to third.
With the go-ahead run on third, senior Shayne Lotito struck out. Over the course of the last week, Lotito’s batting average has dropped 40 points to .371. No matter, the next batter, sophomore April Setterlund, picked up her teammate by singling to right, scoring Hudson. It was the only run the Terriers would need.
Engman did well to keep Harvard scoreless under tight circumstances, with the margin stuck at one until the sixth inning.
‘When you can play in tight ballgames and win, people really start to believe in each other,’ Rychcik said. ‘These kids like playing for each other and making sure everyone plays well.’
The Terriers added two more in the sixth inning to add some insurance. Senior catcher Christy Leath singled in freshman second baseman, Emily Roesch. Then senior designated hitter Norah Millitz singled her in to push the cushion to three.
A threat in the top of the next inning, the seventh, proved the insurance runs important, and threatened the Terrier lead. But like it has before this season, the double play bailed them out.
After loading the bases, Engman got junior third-baseman Melissa Schelberg to ground into a 6-4-3 game-ender.
‘We haven’t played as well on defense this year as we did a year ago, but we have relied on the double play,’ Rychcik said. ‘We turned 20-some last year, and probably already turned that many this season.’
The double play was the Terrier’s 22nd on the season, which leads the America East.
The Terriers next travel to the University of Hartford for a three-game series this weekend.
Hartford started the season slowly, losing its first seven games, but the Hawks should not be underestimated. They have since picked it up, going 12-5 in their last 17, including a 5-2 record in the America East, which pits them third. The Terriers are first.
Hartford is led by one of the more prolific pitchers in the conference, junior Brittney Stratton. She is 9-4 with a 1.60 ERA and has struck out 87 batters in as many innings pitched.
The Terriers are sure to run into her in one of the three games this weekend. She will be hard to beat. Look for ace Cassidi Hardy to match up against her in what is sure to be a true pitcher’s duel.