Despite a grand slam off the bat of junior centerfielder April Setterlund, the Boston University softball team was unable to complete a comeback last night against No. 22 University of Massachusetts-Amherst, falling 7-5. The grand slam put Setterlund in sole possession of the program’s single-season RBI record with 48 RBIs through 34 games.
Freshman pitcher Whitney Tuthill was not at her best. She lasted four innings and surrendered six runs on six hits. Tuthill also gave up three home runs, two of which were back-to-back shots to lead off the top of the fourth.
“The second home run, she got up a little bit, but it was a good pitch,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik.. “They’re a good hitting team. [Senior pitcher] Cassidi [Hardy] gave up a home run in the sixth inning, and the pitch was not even a strike. Whitney got off a little on the one pitch, but I thought our pitchers did a good job. I don’t think she really did that much wrong. Good hitters can do that.”
The Minutewomen (26-7, 8-0) had sophomore ace Sara Plourde, who tossed a two-hitter last week against the Terriers (20-14, 5-1), on the mound. Plourde did not perform quite as well this time out, but she still struck out nine while giving up five runs on eight hits in a complete-game effort.
“I think the batters did a good job to get her rattled a little bit,” Rychcik said. “She walked three, and she didn’t walk any in the first game. It was just adjustments at the plate and the batters being a little bit more familiar with her. Our hitters just made the adjustments they are supposed to make.”
BU played most of the game from behind, as UMass broke out for four runs in the second inning. Freshman third baseman Teea Rogers sparked the scoring for the Minutewomen when, with two outs and runners on first and second, she hit a single to center, plating the first UMass run. Senior outfielder Michelle Libby followed with a three-run home run to center field to put UMass up, 4-0.
Down 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Tuthill helped her own cause with a solo home run to left field. Most of the offense for the Terriers, however, came in the bottom of the fifth. Plourde walked junior catcher Caitlin Rentler and senior first baseman Rachel Hebert before giving up a single to sophomore second baseman Erica Casacci, who went 3-for-4 on the day. That loaded the bases for Setterlund, the second-best hitter in the nation with a .570 average. True to her growing reputation, Setterlund proceeded to blast a home run over the centerfield fence, narrowing the score to 6-5 in favor of the Minutewomen.
“The kids had an opportunity to just lay down,” Rychcik said. “They could have said, “You know what, we gave up two runs. It’s not our day. We’re down six already.’ But they decided, we’re going to make quality at-bats, and we’re going to really work to get better. And everybody worked to get something out of it, so we got a couple of hits, and all of a sudden, we’re back in it. It’s 6-5.”
Yet UMass never let BU get ahead of them. In the top of the sixth with Hardy in the game for the Terriers, UMass first baseman Sarah Reeves hit her second home run of the day, a solo shot that widened the gap to 7-5.
In both the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, the Terriers brought the tying run to the plate, but they simply could not capitalize off of Plourde.
While they did not win the game, BU did come closer to beating UMass, one of the best teams in the Northeast. Rychcik could not say how or when his team would be able to beat the Minutewomen, but he did have one promise.
“We’re not afraid of them by any means,” Rychcik said. “One of these days, we’re going to get by them.”