Boston University freshman pitcher Taylor Cowan waited for nearly two months for her first collegiate start in the circle.
Once she got the start, she made it count.
Cowan threw a complete game shutout against Bryant University, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out two.
The Terrier rookie entered the contest with only 3.2 innings of experience at the collegiate level. In her seven innings last night, she whittled her season ERA down to 0.66 and earned her first win.
The win may not seem too impressive as the Bulldogs are 4-28 on the season, but having just broken a 14-game winless streak and with the Terriers on a two-game slide, Bryant promised to be more difficult than it looked. While the Terrier offense could only muster three earned runs against a struggling pitching staff (5.13 team ERA), Cowan sparkled in the circle and was instrumental in putting BU back in the win column.
While it was her first start of the season, she did not seem nervous at all.
“There are always nerves before any game that you’re playing,” Cowan said. “But, once you get into it, you kind of just forget about it.”
BU coach Shawn Rychcik has used Cowan as a utility player over the course of the season due to team injuries early in the year. As a result, Cowan has had the third most at-bats of any player on the team with 109 and is hitting .229.
“I wanted her to get some innings,” Rychcik said. “It’s been the plan all year to have her throw and be a part of the pitching staff but because of injuries, I’ve needed her at first base, I’ve needed her in the outfield and I just haven’t had the opportunity to flip people around.”
Right off the bat, Cowan got to display her ability to work under pressure. In the first stanza, Bulldog sophomore Laura Bowen, the team’s most dangerous hitter, singled and advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt and an illegal pitch. However, Cowan forced senior Ashley Coon to hit a ground ball, and Bowen was caught in a rundown between third and home. Another ground out later, Cowan had escaped the inning unscathed.
“I really just had to focus on hitting my spots because my defense is always behind me, and I knew they’d make the play,” Cowan said.
While nursing a one-run lead in the third, Cowan surrendered another leadoff single that would develop into a scoring threat, as sophomore outfielder Lindsay Martin moved to third on another sacrifice bunt and a ground out. True to form, Cowan forced another ground out to end the threat and keep the Terriers in front.
In each of the final four innings, Cowan stranded runners in scoring position. Ground balls consistently got her out of jams, and in the seventh, she ended the game on a check-swing strikeout of freshman Talia Zizza. She was even able to keep her composure despite the shutout.
“You can’t really focus on the shutout,” she said. “You have to focus on making the next out and you’ve got to trust your defense behind you.”
“I think she knows she has to get outs whether the bases are loaded or nobody is on,” Rychcik said. “I don’t know [if she works better under pressure]. She’s a strong kid, and I’ve been impressed with her and the way she carries herself so I don’t know if that’s a reflection on getting out of jams, but pitchers all need to get out of jams. It’s awful nice when it’s one, two, three, but when it’s not, it’s your job to find a way to get the ball to your infielders, and she was able to do it today.
“She got herself in trouble with a couple walks, but she got the outs. She’s a pretty good pitcher. We just have to get her some experience and keep going. It’s a good win for her. She got a shutout win in her first collegiate start against a Division I team. I don’t care who the team is. She still got 21 outs before they could score so it’s a nice day for her.”