A surprising change in America East softball supremacy has left Boston University unable to gather its bearings in recent games. After easing by Stony Brook University in the 2011 season, the Terriers fell to the Seawolves last weekend in the second three-game series of conference play, before then falling to a struggling Bryant University team. The Terriers are now looking to get back on track in their first conference series away from home.
BU coach Shawn Rychcik said that travelling to Orono, Maine for a weekend stint might provide the setting the team needs in order to re-establish its cohesiveness and positive mindset.
“I am actually looking forward to getting on the road,” Rychcik said. “When we’re on the road we’re together: We eat together, we have curfew… There is no distraction, there is no class and there are no parents and no friends. It’s just us and the team and we do well in that scenario.”
The University of Maine (7-22, 0-3 America East) was the only team to defeat BU (20-12, 4-2 America East) in a conference three-game series last year, in spite of the Black Bears’ fifth place finish in the conference, and the Terriers’ first place finish. Maine is currently in sixth place in the division, and the Terriers could benefit from a weekend sweep that would act not only as redemption, but also as a new beginning of the team’s momentum.
As far as experience goes, BU seems to have the upper hand on its Maine opponents. The Terriers have been pitted against five different nationally ranked teams so far this year, whereas the Black Bears have yet to compete against such a foe. In a similar vein, BU has already finished its first two conference series. Maine has played only one America East series, a set that resulted in a three game sweep of the Black Bears by the first place University at Albany.
One factor that has forced some hesitation throughout the BU lineup recently is the absence of junior infielder Emily Roesch. The starting second baseman was hit by a pitch in the second of the three games against Stony Brook, and has been forced to sit through each of the following games since that point. The loss has caused Rychcik to alter the infield lineup, as well as the batting order, and Roesch’s contributions on both offense and defense have been greatly missed.
Rychcik remains positive about his team’s chances without Roesch, but he also said he hopes for her expedient return.
“I think we’re fine if we don’t have [Roesch}, and I think we’re talented enough to go out there and get three wins,” Rychcik said. “But she’s a great defensive player, she has swung the bat pretty well this year, and she’s a good leader on the field. It would be nice to get her back.”
Roesch’s .264 batting average may not be stellar, but she has been an important producer of runs for the Terriers, knocking in 16 RBIs this season, including six doubles and three home runs. On defense, Roesch maintains an impressive .966 fielding percentage, and has made several clutch putouts over the course of the season.
“Every day is a little bit better – day-to-day going into the weekend,” said Rychcik with regards to the condition of Roesch’s injured arm. “The pain is getting a little less, range of motion is getting better and strength is getting better… She has been through a ton of injuries in her career, and she just keeps running back out on the field. It’ll probably be her call – she’ll go until she says she can’t.”