After a winless start to the season in the four-game Texas Classic, Boston College softball rebounded by splitting its four games in the ACC/B1G Challenge, beating Michigan State twice and losing to Illinois twice, respectively. The Eagles, after managing just six runs in their first four games combined, erupted offensively in the wins, beating the Spartans, 9-7 and 7-6 (10 innings). BC struggled against the Fighting Illini, falling, 7-3 and 12-3, but so did the rest of the field—Illinois went 4-0 and piled up 41 runs in four games. It was a successful weekend, all things considered, as the Eagles (2-6) got into the win column and will attempt to further that success next weekend in the Pirate Invitational, which features two games against No. 25 James Madison.
Illinois 7, BC 3 (Sat.)
The weekend finale started on a high note, with the Eagles jumping on Illini starter Emily Oestreich for two runs in the first frame—Emme Martinez had an RBI single and Gianna Boccagno drove in a run with a double—but things would unravel from there. BC starter Camryn Dolby was chased in the third inning and reliever Susannah Anderson struggled to get out of the frame, with Illinois striking for six runs and building a comfortable edge in what ended up being a 7-3 victory.
Despite matching the Illini in hits, the Eagles left five runners on base and largely failed to get much off Oestreich. The senior went the distance, with the lone blemish after the first inning a solo home run allowed to BC first baseman Kristin Giery in the fourth frame. Anderson settled down and spun three scoreless innings after the third, but Oestreich would do the same, using two double plays before inducing a game-ending flyout with two Eagles in scoring position in the seventh.
BC 7, Michigan State 6 (Sat.)
A rematch of a dramatic weekend-opening win for the Eagles was similarly back-and-forth, with BC needing to fight off a furious late rally from the Spartans to escape with a 7-6 win. The Eagles, behind a 3-for-4 day and three RBIs from Ellie Mataya, had erased an early deficit and built a healthy 7-3 lead on the strength of 11 hits.
Michigan State refused to bow out, though, scoring three runs off of Anderson to close the gap to just one. After BC, unconventionally, went one-two-three in the bottom of the frame—Lexi DiEmmanule was caught stealing after a leadoff single—the Spartans returned, desperate to avenge Friday morning’s loss. Instead, Anderson calmly set down the side in order, preserving the win for Dolby, who struck out six and allowed just two earned runs in four innings of work. Four Eagles had multi-hit days, including second baseman Jenna Ergle, who had a solo home run in the fifth that proved to be the decisive insurance run.
Illinois 12, BC 3 (Fri.)
The first meeting between these two programs was one-sided, with the Illini needing just five innings to pile up 12 runs and send the Eagles home for the night with a loss. Illinois scored three or more runs in three of the first four frames, building an early 7-1 lead through two that was never tested. After a 10-inning affair earlier in the day, BC head coach Ashley Obrest gave Kendra Friedt the start, and the senior promptly registered just three outs while allowing seven runs—six earned—on five hits.
C.C. Cook didn’t fare much better in relief, as she was chased after allowing five runs—only two earned, though, the product of three Eagles errors—in two and a third innings pitched. Anderson and Dolby slowed the rout by combining for a scoreless inning, but the damage was done, as BC’s offense was slow to start, managing just three runs on four hits against the Illini duo of Sydney Sickels and Taylor Edwards.
BC 9, Michigan State 7 (Fri.)
The Eagles found their way into the win column on the back of a whirlwind comeback, erasing a four-run deficit in the penultimate frame before scoring twice in the 10th inning to claim a 9-7 win. Once BC tied the game up in the fifth after one of seven errors committed by the Spartans came back to haunt them, Michigan State erupted for four runs in the bottom of the frame. The scoring spurt chased Anderson—who, despite allowing seven runs, wasn’t credited a single earned run.
The Eagles made sure Anderson wasn’t a tough-luck loser, though, picking her up in the sixth. Ergle doubled in a run, Martinez added an RBI single, and Giery tied the game up with a sacrifice fly. Momentum in hand, Dolby made sure her team would have a chance to win it by hurling five scoreless innings, walking six and striking out four. The freshman allowed just two hits, eventually setting BC up for late-inning heroics. An error scored Boccagno to give the Eagles a lead, and Martinez—who went 5-for-6 with three RBIs—added an insurance run with a single through the left side. Dolby retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame, and BC headed into the afternoon with its first win of the year under its belt.
Ultimately, it was a successful weekend for the Eagles. Yes, Illinois rolled past BC twice, but the Illini received votes in the latest top-25 poll. Michigan State, meanwhile, was a comparable opponent from a similarly tough conference and the Eagles demonstrated resilience to beat them two times in as many days. BC’s pitching still leaves question marks, but the lineup was able to shake off last week’s struggles and stitch together hits in a way that should lead to further positive results.
Featured Image by Boston College Athletics