Softball Begins Conference Play
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Following an impressive come-from-behind victory over Minnesota, the Boston College women’s softball team (16-6) will open up conference play Saturday with a series at Georgia Tech (15-12, 0-3).
Riding a strong performance in the non-conference portion of their schedule, the Eagles are not shy about their expectations in the ACC.
"At the beginning of the season, I got the team together and asked them what their goals were, and they all responded, ‘Win an ACC championship,’" said head coach Ashley Obrest. "With this start and this group I think that’s very realistic and achievable."For a team that has never before finished better than seventh in conference play, the road to an ACC title will start in Atlanta against a very strong Yellow Jackets team. However, unlike the Eagles, Georgia Tech enters the game after being swept by ACC rival Virginia.
"On paper, their record doesn’t show how good they really are," Obrest said. "They have talented pitchers and hitters."
The Eagles will have to focus on silencing the bat of sophomore C/3B Alysha Rudnik. Rudnik, who was an All-ACC First Team selection just a year ago, leads the team with a .354 batting average. She has also accounted for 17 RBIs this season, good for second on the squad.
While this is no small task, BC will look to utilize a multitude of different pitchers to stifle the Yellow Jackets’ potent offense. While using slightly different styles, the Eagles’ three primary pitching options, Morgan Kidd, Nicole D’Argento, and Amanda Horowitz have been incredibly effective thus far.
D’Argento, who has already tallied seven wins this season, has held opponents to a sub-.200 batting average, and boasts a stellar 2.41 ERA. In 26 innings Kidd’s ERA is a team leading 1.35. Finally, Horowitz has accounted for six wins of her own after starting a team-high nine games for the Eagles.
"Morgan is a little slower and spins the ball, Nicole is great at finishing up, and Amanda throws hard with a lot of movement" Obrest said. "Our pitchers keep us in games and our hitters will figure pitchers out."
So far this season, the BC bats have sparked. The lineup features five hitters with at least a .300 batting average, including senior OF/3B Ali Lynette-Krech. Lynette-Krech, who is hitting a remarkable .439 in 22 games this season, leads the team in doubles and on-base percentage.
The Eagles’ lineup will likely face junior Hope Rush, a former All-ACC First Team member. Rush has racked up nine wins this season in over 100 innings pitched. The Georgia Tech star has 78 strikeouts already this season and opponents are hitting a meager .226 against her.
Pitching and hitting will be crucial, but it may be defense that plays the most important role in deciding who takes the series.
"Defense will be huge," Obrest commented. "We must maintain our aggressive play."
This first series of conference play will prove critical for the Eagles, who want to start out on the right foot in one of the nation’s top softball leagues.
"I don’t think there’s a weak team in the ACC," Obrest said. "It’s all about who’s on on a particular weekend. The conference as a whole is really up for grabs."