By: Brian Dealmeida
With the softball season starting up in just a week, the Terriers are looking to repeat as Patriot League Champions and set up another bid in the NCAA tournament. But with every season comes questions and this year is no different, so here are four of the biggest question marks for BU leading up to their season opener against Bethune-Cookman on February 10th in Boca Raton, Florida.
Who is going to step up?
While the Terrier’s only graduated three seniors last season, they lost two major cogs on the mound with the departure of Melanie Russell (14-11, 3.03 ERA) and Lauren Hynes (12-10, 2.88 ERA). On the other hand, they return practically a full line up. Unfortunately for the Terriers, pitching is a must in a very tough Patriot League so somebody needs to step up.
Senior Makinna Akers is set to be main arm for the Terriers this season as she has the only seasoned arm on the roster. Junior Sydni Overly has been plagued by injuries in her two seasons in Boston only accumulating 33 innings of work in that time. The two biggest question marks are going to be freshmen Lizzie Annerino and Kali Magane, who will be relied on to carry some of the pitching load for the Terriers.
Can the Terriers make some noise early?
One of the hardest problems teams from the Northeast have early on in the season is competing in tournaments against teams from warm weather states. Over the past few years, the first time the Terriers saw dirt was when they walked onto the field for the first game of the season. While conference play is a large factor in who makes the tournament, early season tournament play can lead to at large births and is also a time to prepare for the post-season. In the past three seasons, BU is 25-37 (.403) in early season tournaments.
Will the offense perform better after a year together?
While the pitching staff was hit hard due to graduation, the Terriers only lost one bat coming into this season giving them the unique capability of returning the lineup almost fully intact. The team batted for an average of .300 while hitting 10 homers with 235 runs scored over 52 total games.
With senior Brittany Younan and Moriah Connolly at the top of the lineup, the Terriers return two of the best hitters in the Patriot League. The lineup will also feature sluggers in sophomore Alex Heinen and senior Gabi Matinez who combined for seven home runs and 53 RBIs. Another player to watch this season will be sophomore Alexa Ponce who batted .380 in just 50 at-bats towards the end of the season.
Is it possible for another Terrier repeat?
In just her second season in Boston, head coach Ashley Waters claimed a Patriot League title and clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Since 2010, the Terriers have quietly built one of the universities most consistent teams winning a conference title four times in that span. The Terriers went 3-0 in the Patriot League Championship, defeating #2 seed Army twice to clinch the title and giving them an automatic birth into the NCAA tournament. With many teams around the league losing star players to graduation, including reigning player of the year Army’s Kasey McCravey, the Terriers look poised for another repeat if the pitching can hold up it’s end of the bargain.