By: Greg Levinsky
BOSTON — No doubt about it, the Boston University Softball team is the Patriot League’s finest.
Behind a six-run bottom of the fourth inning, the first-seeded Terriers earned the 2018 Patriot League title with a, 8-0 mercy-run rule win over third-seeded Lehigh on a rainy Saturday morning at the Boston University Softball Field.
“We just wanted to prove that we were the number one team as the host, the best team that was here,” head coach Ashley Waters said. “We proved that.”
Third baseman Madi Killebrew’s 3-run triple capped the game’s scoring. The scalding junior went 5-for-10 with a home run, a triple, two doubles and 10 RBIs across the three Patriot League Tournament games.
“Every single one of us believed in her wholeheartedly the entire season and watching her do what she did didn’t surprise any of us, we all knew it was coming,” senior centerfielder Jilee Schanda said. “But, I am so, so happy for her.”
“She was huge down the stretch,” Waters said. “There’s a new hero every day and that’s what makes this team really special.”
Boston University (39-18,15-3 Patriot League) earned the right to host the championship after winning each regular season conference series. Schanda said playing the tournament at home brought a myriad of advantages.
“It was such an exciting moment when we got to wake up in our own beds and walk down to our own field and warm up our own way that we’re so used to,” she said . “And getting to celebrate on our home field afterwards makes it that much sweeter.”
Lehigh sophomore pitcher Parker Boyd (19-13) came into the championship series riding a 20-inning scoreless streak, twirling two different three-hit complete game shutouts yesterday in sending home fourth-seeded Army and second-seeded Bucknell. After flowing through the first two innings, the Terrier bats came alive.
Senior right fielder Emma Wong singled home classmate Brittany Younan on a 3-2 count with two outs. Younan stole second base after reaching on a walk and junior catcher Alex Heinen followed with an RBI double to make it 2-0 after getting to second base on an aggressive take.
Waters said taking the extra base is a key tenet of winning tightly contested postseason games.
“Being smart and being aggressive is our thing,” Waters said. “I always tell them risk and reward, we’re going to risk things and either you’re going to be rewarded or you’ll have to put your head down and hustle to the dugout.”
Schanda singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth after the freshman pitcher got out of a second and third, no out jam in the top half. Junior second baseman Emily Morrow tripled Schanda home and then scored after getting squeezed in via the bunt.
Wong brought home a run on a fielder’s choice to bring up Killebrew, who then swatted a three-run triple to solidify the 8-0 final.
Schanda said it was extra special to defeat the Mountain Hawks (24-26-1, 11-7) after falling to them in the same situation last year.
“To beat Lehigh like this, it’s kinda nice revenge,” Schanda said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Boston University made sure to not only capitalize on, but create opportunities and remain poised against a defensive minded Lehigh team.
“There was definitely a bitter taste from last year,” said senior shortstop Brittany Younan, who co-captained the team a season ago, but missed the season with injury. “I think we just took note that last year we were a little bit tight and when we came to the field [today] everyone was extremely calm, it was unbelievable.”
Younan reached in all three of her plate appearances in the title game, earning a spot on the All-Tournament team along with Killebrew, Wong and freshman pitcher Ali DuBois.
DuBois (28-7) ended the game with a called third strike, going the full five innings with five strikeouts, allowing just one hit and walk. She earned the win in all three Patriot League Tournament games.
The Terriers outscored opponents 20-4 in the three tournament games with a blistering display at the plate from batters one through nine.
“It’s so cool going into regionals knowing that we’re hitting that well, because if we can hit these pitchers, we can do it against anyone,” Younan said.
Terrier softball is going dancing and will learn exactly where during Sunday’s NCAA Selection show which will occur at 10 p.m. and be televised on ESPN2.
“It’s always so much fun to get to watch it and see where you go,” Schanda said. “It’s just such a good time with the people you care about. I’m excited for it.”