NCAA, Softball, Sports

Softball to face UMass, Plourde

After taking a couple of wins from the University of Maine in Orono early in April, the Boston University softball team was forced to return home because of inclement weather before the teams could complete the conference series. On Tuesday, the Terriers returned to Maine and completed the extended sweep by virtue of a 5-3 victory.

BU coach Shawn Rychcik said his team had to overcome much adversity regarding school scheduling in order to attain the win.

“It’s a tough time of the year to reschedule,” Rychcik said. “We had to move exams. . . . We were supposed to play at 2:30 p.m., and then it rained today so we weren’t able to start until almost 4:30 p.m. . . . Lots of sacrifices on the teachers’ parts and on the kids’ parts.”

After the teams overcame the various delays, the Black Bears (15-27-1, 6-8-1 America East) jumped into the lead first. In the second inning, sophomore pitcher Holli Floetker struggled to find her groove, walking two and giving up a two-run home run before ending the inning with a strikeout. Junior Whitney Tuthill entered the game in relief for Floetker after two outs in the third inning.

BU (34-13, 12-3 America East) battled to even the score with Maine, gaining one run in each the third and sixth innings. Sophomore shortstop Brittany Clendenny, who was named last week’s America East Player of the Week, knocked in the first of these runs with an RBI single. Classmate Chelsea O’Connor knocked a solo homer, her fifth of the season, in the sixth.

The Black Bears seemingly lost their composure in the seventh inning as the Terriers scored three unearned runs. After getting on base and making her way to third, sophomore right fielder Jayme Mask came home on a passed ball. O’Connor then acquired another RBI when she brought home sophomore third baseman Megan Volpano with a ground-ball error by the second baseman. Sophomore Chelsea Kehr brought in the Terriers’ final run when she drove O’Connor in with a single.

Maine only gained one run in response during its half of the seventh inning, and Tuthill took home the win. This win is the Terriers’ 10th straight, a streak longer than any since 2008.

Rychcik said that he is simply satisfied with being victorious, one game at a time, within the conference.

“Winning just feels good,” Rychcik said. “We’re getting conference wins, and that part feels good.”

Wednesday, BU will travel to Amherst, where the team will take on non-conference opponent University of Massachusetts. The first matchup between the two Massachusetts opponents was cancelled and not rescheduled, leaving the Terriers with chance to win two matchups with UMass in a row. Before BU’s win over UMass in the 2010 NCAA Regional, the last time BU defeated the Minutewomen was in the 1996 NCAA Regional.

Minutewoman senior Sara Plourde is currently one of the nation’s top Division I softball pitchers. She ranks second in wins with 29, and stands head and shoulders above all others in strikeouts with 434.

Floetker, BU’s current top performer inside the circle, has 16 wins and 124 strikeouts; solid numbers, but not great feats in comparison to those of Plourde. However, Floetker maintains a 1.75 ERA, whereas Plourde holds a slightly more forgiving 1.96 in this category.

“It’s something we look forward to,” Rychcik said of the match with Massachusetts. “Over the last five years, maybe six years, our program has gotten a lot better. . . . Our kids really look forward to it. It’s a great gauge of where we’re at.

“They’re a really good team to have on the schedule – tough for us because we’re coming off of the tough road trip here, but the kids will be ready.”

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