Last weekend, the Boston University softball team came away from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte Green and White Tournament with two wins and three losses to start the season.
The Terriers ended up with a 13-12 loss to Marshall University and splits with Seton Hall University &- a 12-7 loss and a 14-5 win &- and host UNC-Charlotte &- a 2-0 win and a 3-2 loss.
“We’re two and three, but the season isn’t made or broken on that first weekend,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik. “We have three injuries right now [freshman infielder Chelsea Kehr, sophomore infielder Emily Roesch and junior infielder Melanie Delgado], so we’re just trying to make adjustments. We have a lot of heart, a lot of fire. We have some really skilled people.”
BU opened the season with a heartbreaking walk-off loss to Marshall (10-4), in which it surrendered a five-run cushion in the final stanza to lose, 13-12. The Terrier offense built their lead off of strong performances from junior catcher Caitlin Rentler (5 RBIs, HR) and sophomore infielder Erica Casacci (3-4, two runs scored), along with RBIs from five other players.
However, the Terriers needed to perform defensively in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win. But that didn’t happen.
Junior pitcher Kelly Engman came on in the sixth in relief of senior ace Cassidi Hardy. Two throwing errors by the infield and a flurry of timely hits later, the Thundering Herd had dealt Engman and the Terriers their first loss of the season.
“We made a couple mistakes early [in the inning], and we had to throw extra pitches,” said Rychcik. “It kind of snowballs a bit. We’re a little bit young, have some people definitely out of position. It’s just a matter of them getting experience and then I think we’ll be able to close those games out.”
Freshman pitcher Whitney Tuthill’s starts in the following two games yielded a 12-7 loss to Seton Hall (1-4), and then a gem of a no-hitter against Charlotte (11-1), to hand the 49ers their first loss of the season, 2-0. Tuthill finished the weekend with a 2.56 ERA, the best of the Terriers’ pitching staff so far.
BU’s offense set the tone early in the first contest against Seton Hall with home runs from junior outfielder April Setterlund and senior infielder Rachel Hebert in the first inning. A seven-run burst by the Pirates in the seventh inning, however, put the game out of the Terriers’ reach.
Tuthill bounced back in a big way the next day against then-undefeated Charlotte with the first no-hitter by a Terrier rookie in three years. In a hard-fought pitchers’ duel, Tuthill outshone 49er junior Katy Hackett by allowing three base runners on two throwing errors, one walk and no hits.
Freshman pitcher Taylor Cowan’s first hit of her collegiate career went for a solo home run in the fifth inning and broke the scoreless tie in favor of BU. Hebert added another solo shot in the seventh to give Tuthill an insurance run going into the bottom half of the stanza.
“She is actually out of position,” said Rychcik of Cowan, who is a pitcher but was playing first base at the time. “She had a rough first game at the plate. That was her first collegiate hit, which went for a home run and the game winning RBI. It was a really good at bat, really good for her. It kind of broke her for a few hits later in the weekend.”
Charlotte threatened in the bottom of the seventh with runners on the corners and two outs, but Tuthill was able to slam the door by coaxing the final batter into an easy out for freshman shortstop Jayme Mask.
“[Tuthill’s performance] was great to see,” said Rychcik. “It gives us a nice option. She made quite a few knockdown plays when we needed her to. . . . [The innings leading up to the no-hitter] were very calm, peaceful. It didn’t get to the point where people were staying away from [Tuthill], or weren’t talking to her. I don’t think people brought it up and broke that [unwritten] rule, but we were trying to win the game, which was great for me.”
The Terriers scored two runs again against Charlotte in a rematch later in the day but fell 3-2. After falling behind 2-0 after the first inning, BU fought back to a 2-2 tie thanks to strong middle stanzas from Hardy and a home run from Setterlund. A 49er home run in the seventh, however, gave Charlotte a one-run lead, and eventually the game.
On Sunday, the Terriers’ bats came alive in a 14-5 crushing of Seton Hall. Hardy ended the game with an exclamation point by striking out the final three batters.