By: Dave Souza
The Boston University Softball team earned a 2-2 split in its first tournament, the Florida Atlantic University Kick-Off Classic this past weekend in Boca Raton, Florida. The tourney was highlighted by BU’s 3-1 win over No. 23 FAU, who was the only team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament other than the Terriers last spring.
Trailing by a run entering the top of the seventh, the Terriers strung together three runs as they pulled past the host Owls. Alex Heinen scored the tying run a batter after leading off the inning with a single. The sophomore crossed the plate when an FAU infielder mishandled a grounder and then skipped an errant throw past her teammate during a rundown with senior Gabi Martinez.
Three batters later Martinez would make the Owls pay even further when she scored the eventual winning run after junior Kaitlin Sahlinger stroked an RBI single. Sahlinger served as the insurance run after coming home on senior Rachel Levine’s single.
Senior Makinna Akers earned the win for the Terriers after throwing four innings of relief. The right-hander allowed two hits and no runs as BU notched their first win over a ranked opponent since 2012.
BU then rode that momentum to another victory the next day, edging North Florida 1-0 in the first game of a double-header. The lone run of the game came in the fourth inning when sophomore Emily Morrow homered to right. The blast was Morrow’s first home run as a Terrier.
Freshman Kali Magane pitched a complete-game shutout in her first outing for BU, earning the win. The righty sat down four batters on strikes, allowed three hits, and walked one in her seven innings of work.
However the Terriers sputtered in the second half of their day-night double-header, dropping a 5-1 contest to Bethune-Cookman. Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead after sophomore Alexa Ponce’s single scored senior Moriah Connolly, the Terriers watched as BCUSB stretched five runs across two to upend BU.
The Wildcats scored two unearned runs in the fourth inning thanks to a pair of fielding errors by the scarlet and white. Mariah Davis singled to put two on with no one out, before advancing to second on an error by Ponce. Davis and Annie Bakenhus, who led off the inning with a single, would both score on the next at-bat when Salinger sent an errant throw wild from first base.
BCUSB would add a trio of runs in the bottom of the 6th off of an RBI single from Brianna Sanders and a two-run homer from Ryan Jackson.
In the tournament’s final day the Terriers offense exploded for six runs across five innings, but fell to NC State 9-6 after the Wolfpack struck for seven in the bottom of the 3rd.
The inning was punctuated by four extra-base hits, including a two-run homer by sophomore Cheyenne Balzer. And, despite a lone error by the Terriers in the third, all nine of NC State’s runs were earned. Junior Sydni Overly took the loss for BU after giving up three runs on three hits in two-plus innings.
Hoping to build off of a strong first half of the tournament, the Terriers will now travel to Madeira Beach, Florida for their second tourney of the season. BU will square off with five different opponents from all different parts of the country.
First the scarlet and white will begin tournament action against Eastern Illinois on Friday morning at 9 a.m. before following that contest up with one against Oakland University at 11:30 that same day. Neither EMU nor the Golden Grizzlies have played this season, as both teams will see their first action in the Madeira Beach Tournament.
The Terriers will then follow up their Friday morning double-header with back-to-back contests on Saturday night. First the Terriers will square off with the University of Alabama-Birmingham before rounding out the day against Quinnipiac. The Bobcats will also be playing in their first tournament of the season.
The UAB Dragons currently sit at 0-3 after dropping all three games in their opening tournament, the Paradise Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii. Two of their losses were two-run defeats while their opening contest of the season was a 4-0 loss at the hands of Oregon State. UAB was also slated to play host Hawaii as well as the Beavers for a second time, however both contests were cancelled.
Freshman infielder Natalie Erwin currently leads the Dragons with a .571 average while senior Joanna Fallen and junior Molli Garcia have each knocked in a pair of runs for UAB.
Finally the Terriers will finish off the tournament against the Southern Illinois Salukis. SIU has also has played in one other tournament this season, the Lion Classic. Going 3-2 last weekend, SIU went 3-2 and posted shutouts in all of their victories.
Their final win came against a common foe for the Terriers, Army. In that contest, the Salukis blanked Army 7-0. Sporting a potent offense, Southern Illinois is currently outscoring opponents 26-6, with their biggest win coming in an 11-0 thumping of Coppin State University.
The Terriers will aim to recapture their performance from their first two contests as they’ll have to face off against three untested squads, a sleeper UAB team, and an offensive juggernaut in SIU.