Spring, Softball

Eagles Cool Off, Suffer Series Sweep at the Hands of Louisville

Winners of three straight, Boston College softball arrived in Kentucky to face conference foe Louisville with plenty of confidence. After all, the Eagles had taken one of three from division-leading and nationally ranked Florida State, had taken the series from fellow heavyweight Notre Dame, and had rattled off wins in each of their last seven non-conference games.

The Cardinals weren’t phased.

Louisville swept BC, slipping by with late inning rallies on the first two days and routing them in the series finale, a run-rule shortened 8-0 win, sending the Eagles packing in convincing manner. The Cardinals (30-17, 10-10 Atlantic Coast) held BC (25-21, 11-9) to just four runs all series, handing it its first series sweep in conference play.

Sunday’s win was particularly tough for the Eagles, as Louisville ace Megan Hensley continued her masterful weekend, allowing just four hits. Her offense quickly handed her a lead to work with, and they weren’t disappointed. Hensley danced around trouble en route to the win, leaving seven runners on base over her five innings of work.

Meanwhile, the duo of BC’s Jessica Dreswick and Allyson Frei couldn’t find the outs when they needed them, each lasting less than three innings while allowing three earned runs apiece.

Louisville was paced by four multi-hit days from players in the lineup, guided by three RBIs from Sidney Melton atop the lineup. Hensley chipped in at the dish as well, going 2-for-3 with a two-run single. The Cardinals led by two after the first, six at the fourth, and walked it off in the bottom of the fifth against Frei to end it early.

Facing Frei in the fifth with a 6-0 lead, Louisville didn’t waste any time in wrapping things up. Nicole Pufahl drew a leadoff walk, then scored on a triple to center field from Celene Funke. After a groundout, Alison Szydlowski singled, Blaire Bass was hit by a pitch, and Louisville quite literally walked it off when Melton drew the bases loaded walk to trigger the automatic ending.

On Saturday, it was a combination of offensive struggles and defensive miscues that doomed BC in a narrow 3-2 loss, spoiling a complete game effort from Dreswick in which she allowed just a single earned run.

C.C. Cook and Emme Martinez combined for four hits, but the rest of the lineup managed just seven hits and couldn’t make the most of several opportunities. Meanwhile, three errors in the field was one shy of their regular season high, and practically handed Louisville the game.

A costly error brought in the games first run, as the Cardinals struck in the bottom of the first. After an error allowed Maddy Newman to take an extra pair of bases on a single, another error would prove to be too much to overcome. Jenna Jordan reached on a throwing error from second baseman and Newman dashed home.

BC answered shortly afterwards, seizing the lead on the strength of a two-out rally. After Lexi DiEmmanuele reached on a throwing error and stole second, Annie Murphy followed with an RBI single to right-center. After a Martinez single, Cook laced a run-scoring single to left field to bring in Murphy, but Martinez was thrown out trying to take an extra base—a third out at third that would haunt them.

Louisville promptly answered with a two-run frame of its own, taking a decisive lead. Melton, Newman, and Hensley strung together a trio of singles, with the last one bringing in two runs—Melton from third with ease, and Newman via an obstruction call. It was a tough turn for Dreswick, who had settled down and spun four scoreless innings, albeit stranding five runners in total.

Friday was more of the same, a slim 4-2 win for Louisville on the strength of a three-run home run from Hensley—one of two on the day for the junior—in the fifth inning that took away what could’ve been an important series-opening win for the Eagles. Frei had impressed through three innings, retiring the first seven Cardinals in order. The wheels would come off, however, as she coughed up a home run in the fourth, then tasked with protecting a 2-1 lead, allowed another en route to the loss.

After trading runs in the first few innings, including one via a Hensley home run, BC took the lead in the fifth. Cook, who impressed throughout the weekend, drove in the go-ahead run with a bases loaded single. BC stranded the remaining runners, though, setting the table for the Cardinals comeback.

Hensley, though, continued to make her presence known at the plate. After two reached, she strode to the plate and promptly handed the Cardinals the lead with one swing of the bat, depositing a three-run home run to the same place she had launched one earlier in the day. She then returned to the circle and retired six of the final seven batters she faced to secure the win with relative ease.

It was a forgetful weekend for the Eagles, who entered with a comfortable edge over Louisville in the ACC standings, but now find themselves with a slim lead after the sweep. BC had been playing excellent softball for a good chunk of the season, but the wheels came off in Kentucky. The run-rule blowout to end the series was almost fitting, a simple reflection of BC’s inability to find any success in an important conference series.

Featured Image by Bradley Smart / Heights Editor

April 29, 2018

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