North Carolina State’s Silverman Shuts Down Eagles Offense

On Friday, Boston College softball got a hold of Peyton Silverman early and often. In the North Carolina State freshman’s four innings of work, the Eagles recorded nine hits—four of which came in the first frame. That production translated to runs. For only the fourth time in April, BC eclipsed the four-run mark.

Silverman was back out on the mound on Saturday. According to head coach Ashley Obrest, the lefty pitched the same way she had the day before. Unfortunately for BC, its offense couldn’t have been more different.

Instead of playing small ball, like it did in the first game of the series, the Eagles appeared to be hitting for power. Throughout the entire game, BC struggled to keep the ball on the ground. As a result, fly balls were abundant and runs were scarce. The Eagles’ lone run crossed the plate in the sixth inning. But for Jessica Dreswick, someone who has not only carried the pitching load, but has also been battling the flu as of late, one run was not nearly enough support. Consequently, BC dropped the game 4-1.

Judging by the first inning, it seemed as if Dreswick was on her way to another dominant performance. The junior fanned two of the first three batters she faced in a quick, one-two-three frame. In the back half of the inning, Annie Murphy ripped a double into the right-center gap. But, similar to multiple innings later in the game, BC (28-19, 12-7 Atlantic Coast) stranded a player on base.

In the ensuing inning, the Wolfpack (17-33, 10-10) got on the board. Jessica Moore kept the inning alive with a two-out single to left field. Immediately after that, Cheyenne Balzer smashed one over the head of Murphy in left. The ball hit the fence, and Moore began her sprint home. Murphy relayed the ball to Chloe Sharabba, but the shortstop’s throw home was late, as Moore slid in just in time. Molly Martin popped up to end the rally, but NC State had established the first lead of the contest.

It didn’t take long for Dreswick to settle down. For the next three innings, both she and Silverman traded scoreless frames. Scoring resumed in the top of the sixth. NC State not only added to its lead, but virtually put the game out of reach.

Leading off, Tyler Ross singled through the right side. Taylor Coroneos mishandled the ball and slipped on the throw, allowing Ross to reach second on the play. Next, Jade Caraway lined one to left field. Murphy attempted to make the diving catch, but the ball dropped inches from her glove. Luckily for BC, Lexi DiEmmanuele was there to scoop up the passed ball. But it wouldn’t matter.

By the time DiEmmanuele fired the ball to Sharabba, Ross was already feet away from scoring. Sharabba tried to get Caraway at second, but that didn’t work either. In attempt to jam Alyssa Compton into a pop up, Dreswick targeted the inside portion of the plate. The only problem was, she went a little too inside. Dreswick’s pitch hit Compton, giving her a free pass to first base. With two runners on, Moore singled down the right-field line, bringing home Caraway.

NC State was up three and had runners on the corners, but wasn’t quite done tacking on runs. To top it off, Balzer slapped a pitch the opposite way to left field, scoring Compton—the finishing touches on the Wolfpack’s four-run outburst.  

BC had two innings to make up ground. At first, it looked possible. To get things going, Murphy hit her second double of the day. Right after that, Sharabba—down in the count—shot one up the middle for a single. Now, with runners on the corners, Tatiana Cortez blasted one to left field. It sounded and looked like it could have been a home run, but the ball stopped just short of the fence, and Ross made the grab. Nevertheless, Murphy tagged up and scored.

But then, the offense halted. Jordan Chimento popped up into foul territory, ending the inning. And in the seventh, only one Eagle reached base—not on a hit, but on an error—in BC’s last-ditch effort to force extra innings.

All season, the Eagles’ pitching has been consistent. In fact, their staff is the only one in the conference with an earned run average ranked top-50 nationally. Yet their offense has been another story. Coming into Saturday’s game, BC had the fourth-worst batting average in the ACC.

Obrest believes that the lack of scoring stems from the first three innings of play. If the entire lineup fails to produce on the first go-around, confidence levels plummet.

“We need to do a better job of throwing the first punch: finding ways on base, whether it’s a bunt, walk, hit by pitch, or a hit, to give some confidence to everybody else coming up,” Obrest said.

Although BC has won all but one of its ACC series, it has only swept one opponent—Georgia Tech. And it all goes back to the bats. Whenever the Eagles have lost in conference play, they have never put up more than four runs.

Sunday will serve as an opportunity for BC to win another series. But more importantly, it’ll be a chance for the Eagles to right their offensive inconsistencies.

Featured Image by Shaan Bijwadia / Heights Staff

April 29, 2017