By: David Souza
One week after sweeping Holy Cross at home, the Boston University softball team continued to rack up wins in the Patriot League with a three-game sweep of Army West Point. The Terriers (14-22, 6-3 PL) have rattled off wins in six of their last eight after starting the season with just eight wins in their first 28 games.
The weekend began with a Saturday doubleheader where the scarlet and white cruised to back-to-back shutout victories.
In game one, the Terriers won 5-0 thanks to a complete game from freshman righty Kali Magane (8-9). Alex Heinen crushed a solo shot to left-center to cap a two-run bottom of the first and three tallies in the bottom of the fifth gave BU their fourth straight conference win.
In the fifth, the first three batters reached base, with Moriah Connolly scoring on a Gabi Martinez RBI single. Two batters later, the Terriers pushed across a pair of insurance runs to seal game one.
Game two offered little change for both squads. BU again relied on shutdown pitching – this time coming in a complete game shutout from senior Makinna Akers (6-7), while the Black Knights were unable to keep the Terriers off the base paths.
Army remained in striking distance for the better part of the game, trailing by three headed into the bottom of the fifth. However, senior left fielder Rachel Levine cleared the bases with a grand slam to make the score an insurmountable 7-0 in favor of BU.
The Terriers continued to excel in all facets of the game on Sunday, building off of their stellar Saturday with an 11-1 win in a game-shortened contest on Sunday. Their pitching continued to shine, as Magane pitched four more innings, striking out two and conceding an unearned run. On the weekend, BU’s pitching staff never gave up an earned run to the Black Knights.
Offensively, the terrier sluggers continued to tee off of Army pitching, knocking out starter Kristen West (6-4) after one inning. West was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs on doubles by Martinez and Alexa Ponce in the opening frame.
The Terriers blew the game open in the bottom of the second when they struck for seven runs. Eight consecutive runners reached base to open the inning, with all but one coming home to score. The inning was punctuated by a three-run double by Alex Heinen that made it 7-1. Kaitlin Sahlinger stroked a two-run single up the middle to round out the scoring in the second.
BU finished off their offensive onslaught by adding two more runs the following inning. Heinen had a hand in both as she knocked in the eighth BU run of the contest with an RBI double, before coming around to score on a fielder’s choice by Emma Wong.
The Terriers weekend sweep was bookended by a pair of out of conference losses to in-state opponents. Last Wednesday, the Terriers fell to rival Boston College 3-1 despite leading through the first five innings. Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to UMass Lowell was a similar story, as the Terriers again faltered at the end of the contest. In the loss to the River Hawks, BU rallied to tie it in the bottom of the seventh, before a three-run ninth won it for Lowell.
Now the Terriers will set their sites on the Red Foxes of Marist, who travel to Boston for a double-header on Wednesday afternoon. Leading the way for Marist will be Gabriel Kelliher, a junior outfielder who has been the catalyst for the Red Fox offense this season. Kelliher currently sits atop the leaderboard with a team-best .323 batting average. Her five homers are the second best on Marist, as are her five doubles.
The only Red Fox to best Kelliher in both categories is senior outfielder Janna Korak. While Korak’s average is lower at a .314, the right-handed batting Alabama native has shown off her power this season. Korak has slugged seven home runs and ripped 11 doubles on the spring and is also responsible for 31 of her team’s 151 RBIs, the most on the squad.
The Red Foxes are also a threat from the bump, as two of their pitchers have recorded seven wins. Leading the way for the staff is senior Jessica Van Alphen, a southpaw from Hudson, N.Y. with a 1.79 record in 9 starts. In those outings, the left has tossed seven complete games and has held opponents scoreless three times. Van Alphen (7-3) has also struck out a team-high 52 batters on the season, 11 more than Magane, BU’s leader.
The Terriers have built serious momentum in these last two weeks. Now they’ll look to snag an out of conference win for the first time since March 10 against Cal State Fullerton. After their double-header with Marist, BU will refocus their sights on the Patriot League. They’ll travel to Easton, Penn. to battle the Lafayette Leopards for three games this weekend.