Heading down to Atlanta, Ga., for the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic over the weekend, the Boston University softball team fully intended on playing a full slate of six games—but Mother Nature had other ideas.
Two days of rain cancelled four of those games – against Winthrop University, Georgia Tech University, Austin Peay State University, and Georgia State University – so the Terriers were left with just a doubleheader on Friday evening. After blowing a late lead to Kennesaw State University for a 5-4 loss, BU (3-3) bounced back with a 4-1 win over Mercer University to salvage the road trip.
“They were pretty important,” said BU coach Shawn Rychcik of the unplayed games. “Those are four games that my freshman get under their belt, four games that the pitching staff gets better and builds endurance….We want to be 10 games in and starting to understand our identity, what we’re about, our strengths, our weaknesses, and we still don’t really have that figured out yet.”
Against Kennesaw (11-5), BU led for a majority of the game thanks to a three-run third inning off four hits in six at-bats. After junior outfielder Erica Casacci and senior outfielder April Setterlund’s back-to-back singles, freshman third baseman Megan Volpano drove in Casacci with a single of her own. Then senior catcher Caitlin Rentler doubled to score Setterlund and Casacci and put BU up 3-2.
BU held another one-run advantage, 4-3, as the game entered the bottom of the 7th until Kennesaw designated Jessica Cross homered to tie the game. Minutes later, second baseman Jensen Hackett hit a two-out, bases-loaded single to give Kennesaw the 5-4 walk-off win.
With the loss, sophomore pitcher Whitney Tuthill dropped to 0-2 on the season. Rychcik said he contemplated pulling Tuthill in that last inning.
“I thought about it, and maybe it’s the easiest thing now because of the [loss], but I felt pretty good about where she was at,” Rychcik said.
“I have a lot of faith in her, she can win games for us, and that was her game right there. It just didn’t work out, unfortunately, but I know she’s going to get there.”
Just half an hour later BU took the field again, this time against Mercer (12-7), and did not waste much time getting on the board as redshirt freshman first baseman Chelsea Kehr homered to lead off the second inning. Mercer countered in the fifth when a fielder’s choice scored Mercer third baseman Randi Rea, but the Terriers came right back with a three-run rally in the bottom of the inning.
Redshirt freshman outfielder Jayme Mask, Casacci and Setterlund each stole a base and scored a run to put BU on top for good, 4-1. Freshman pitcher Holli Floetker successfully shut down Mercer in the last two innings to ensure her second win and complete game of the season. She also struck out seven and now owns a team-low 0.43 ERA through the Terriers’ first two weekends of play.
“She did a real nice job of shutting them down and putting pressure on the hitters,” Rychcik said.
“She’s only two games into her career, and just like everybody else she’s working and has been very consistent, so I’m very happy about that.”
Despite the near-win and win on Friday, the team still made three errors, adding to the problem of sloppy defense in the early going this season.
According to Rychcik, though, this weekend was an improvement over the six errors the team made in four games at the end of February, despite the team’s season fielding percentage of .952.
“I thought as a whole we were better. We made some really nice plays,” Rychcik said. “We’re starting to work together a little bit with some of the defense situations, so we’re going to be good defensively. I’d like to see our fielding percentage get up in the high .960s, maybe the .970s.”
These games also marked the third time in two weeks that BU split a doubleheader. In those games at the end of February, the team went 1-1 on Saturday and 1-1 on Sunday in the Louisville Red & Black Tournament in Louisville, Ky.
“We’ll get by it, there’s no doubt. I know it and the girls know it, we just need some more experience under our belts. If you split all year, you’re only a .500 team, which makes you pretty average, and I think there’s more to this team than just average,” Rychcik said.
Next, the team will travel for the third of four weekends in a row when it plays five more teams in the University of South Florida Under Armour Showcase in Tampa, Fla.
Weather permitting, of course.