In the end, the Boston University softball team was just a few feet away from finishing off its biggest comeback of the season.
A solid throw and a quick tag, however, saw BU come up just short in a 10-9 loss to the University of Connecticut on Thursday. The heartbreaker marks the Terriers’ (18-12, 3-0 AE) first home loss of the season and makes their first consecutive losses since March 9.
Down two runs in the bottom of the seventh and with senior first baseman Rachel Hebert at second and sophomore outfielder Erica Casacci at first, the Terriers had only one out to give. BU’s top hitter in junior center fielder April Setterlund &- .598 BA, four hits and two RBI on the day &- dug in at the plate.
Setterlund drilled a hard single into right field, plating Hebert. But the slugger overran first base in anticipation of a throw home and was caught in a run down between first and second. BU coach Shawn Rychcik, realizing that his team needed an extra run to tie the game before Setterlund was tagged, took a chance and sent Casacci home from third. The Huskies (14-18, 2-4 BE) realized the strategy with enough time to make a throw to the plate and deny the Terriers of the tying run, ending the game.
“We overran through first base,” Rychcik said of the play. “We made a mistake. I like to be aggressive. Once I realized we were hung up at first and second, I sent [Cassaci] home. I didn’t want to get tagged out [to end the game] unless it was at home. In the seventh that play sticks out. It was a little too aggressive, but if you want the last out, at least make the play. And they executed.”
The Terriers and the Huskies each had excellent offensive performances to set the stage for such a nerve-wracking finish, The teams combined for 27 hits from 14 different players, including two home runs. Each team left nine men on base as well, hinting at just how high-scoring the game could have been.
The Huskies started the game with a flurry of hits off of senior pitcher Megan Currier. Junior infielder Julianne Towers opened the game with a bang, promptly depositing Currier’s first pitch over the right field fence. Two batters later, Currier had given up two more hits and had thrown an illegal pitch, allowing another run.
After recording her first and only out on a sacrifice bunt, Currier ran into more trouble to the tune of two more singles, a walk and another illegal pitch. Rychcik opted to pull Currier for freshman hurler Whitney Tuthill after only one third of an inning, with three runs already in and the bases loaded. Two more runs that were Currier’s responsibility would score before Tuthill could stop the bleeding and bring the Terriers up to bat.
“Everything was up,” Rychcik said of Currier’s pitching. “The first pitch was up and it went out of the park. I think if you get the ball up, you’re going to be in trouble in this game. So [Currier] didn’t have a great outing, but she’s a senior and she’s had tough outings before. She’ll come back.”
Tuthill allowed two more runs in the third before BU’s bats came alive against senior pitcher Tricia Sullivan (5-10), who had shut down the potent lineup until senior third baseman Rachel Moeller hit her third home run of the year, just barely clearing the fence in right center field. The bomb came with two outs and was followed by Sullivan’s only walk of the afternoon on four pitches. Then an RBI double from sophomore shortstop Emily Roesch chased Sullivan from the game.
“[She’s having a] tremendous year,” Rychcik said of Moeller. “We got ourselves back in the game [with her home run], and on the verge of getting run-ruled. So [it was] a huge hit, and she’s been like that all year, getting clutch hits for us.”
The Terriers and Huskies would trade two runs apiece in the fifth inning, and BU would get one run closer in the sixth, scoring two to the Huskies’ one. The Huskies narrowly escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth to maintain their two-run lead heading into the seventh, when freshman pitcher Kiki Saveriano struck out Roesch swinging after a 10-pitch at-bat.
Senior pitcher Cassidi Hardy pitched a scoreless top of the seventh to keep the tension strong going into the last half-stanza. Freshman pitcher Taylor Cowan also saw time on the mound before Hardy took over.
Defensively, the Terriers nearly recorded a triple play in the top of the fourth inning with runners on first and second. Setterlund, getting the job done with her glove as well as her bat on Thursday, made a diving catch in center field and threw a bullet to second to get the leading runner. If the throw from second to first had been slightly more accurate, the Terriers would have ended the inning right then and there.
“We played pretty good [defensively],” Rychcik said. “I’m not sure what to attribute [our defensive improvement] to. [Now,] we get to work as a unit in the same spots. I think it’s been nice to have that D play strong. That’s helped a lot. Your defense can carry your offense with good energy coming off the field.”