One day after scoring five runs off the No. 22 University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s sophomore ace Sara Plourde, the Boston University softball team could only muster four runs against Bryant University. It was more than enough, however, for the Terriers to secure a 4-0 shutout win and gather some momentum heading into a weekend showdown with America East conference foe, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
“I knew this would be a tougher game,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik. “It wasn’t going to be a walk. I was hoping we would come out and play well. I knew we were going to probably at the end wish we had some at-bats back, but we had 10 hits and we got four runs out of it. It’s just a tough game [after UMass].
“I understand it, and I thought we fought through it. We didn’t press on ourselves. We kind of waited and got one, and just let the game come to us instead of really forcing it and then adding some pressure to ourselves.”
The game marked the first collegiate start for freshman hurler Taylor Cowan, who pitched seven shutout innings. Cowan has appeared in relief for the Terriers (21-14, 5-1 America East) earlier in the season, and her outing today lowered her ERA to a team-leading 0.66 over 10.2 innings pitched.
Senior third baseman Rachel Moeller and freshman designated hitter Whitney Tuthill each had two hits on the day, and the Terrier offense had 10 hits overall. Those hits were spread evenly among the lineup, as the only Terrier without a hit was sophomore second baseman Erica Casacci.
BU’s batting struggles may be due to a tough transition from elite pitchers like Plourde to less-touted ones like junior Samantha Houseal and freshman Brittany Hart, who pitched for Bryant (4-28, 1-9) on Wednesday.
“You go from pitchers throwing like yesterday to a couple pitchers who didn’t throw nearly as hard,” Rychcik said. “You’re going to get some balls out at the end of the bat, and that moves your strike zone up a little bit because you can hit today those pitches that you couldn’t hit yesterday and you were taking yesterday because you knew you couldn’t hit them. It just changes a little bit.”
The Terriers opened up the scoring in the second inning after Tuthill and Cowan got on base with singles. The duo moved to second and third on a wild pitch, and after Houseal battled back by forcing a pop up and strikeout, Tuthill was able to score on a passed ball. Houseal escaped further damage when Cowan was tagged out at home on another passed ball during the next at-bat.
Bryant threatened the one-run lead by putting runners in scoring position in the first, third and fourth innings. In the fourth, the Bulldogs had runners at first and second base with no outs, but Cowan coerced senior shortstop Alison Chouinard to fly out and freshman second baseman Christina Eringis into a bang-bang double play to end the threat.
In the fourth, the Terriers would get two insurance runs. With Moeller and Tuthill on second and third, junior catcher Caitlin Rentler delivered on a two-out RBI single, plating Moeller. Junior right fielder Christina Valdes then worked her second full count in two at-bats before drilling the ball into the ground in front of home plate. Valdes was able to beat out the throw for an infield single, and Tuthill scored on the play.
“What I always say when there are runners on is put the ball in play,” Rychcik said. “We’re an aggressive team and when you put the ball in play, good things can happen. That was a nice insurance run.”
BU would score once more in the fifth when sophomore shortstop Emily Roesch’s RBI double brought home junior centerfielder April Setterlund, who had previously ripped a triple down the first base line.
With four runs in its pocket and a strong pitching performance from Cowan, BU moved back into the win column heading into a three-game set against UMBC this weekend.
“The whole season has prepared us to go into UMBC,” Rychcik said. “We’ll have quick practice tomorrow and get on a bus on Friday morning and head down there. Overall, I think we’ve been pretty good since we went on conference play. I think our defense has been really strong. We’ve hit the ball pretty much throughout the year. Our pitchers have given us opportunities and we’ve taken advantage of them.”