Sports, Spring, Softball

Errors Plague Eagles in Setback Against UMass

After three innings, Boston College softball led visiting Massachusetts, 2-1, and looked like it was going to win its third game in its last three meeting with the Minutemen—who had won 38 of the previous 42 games between the two Baystate foes. Eagles’ starter Susannah Anderson had largely worked around three errors and struck out two batters, and BC’s lineup had tallied four hits in the early going.

But Anderson faltered in the fourth, squandering the slim lead before UMass’s Melissa Garcia hit a two-run double to give the visitors a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, paving the way for a 8-3 win on Thursday afternoon.

The Eagles (10-17, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) were coming off their first series win of the season after taking two of three from Syracuse this past weekend. Taking the first game on Friday and securing the second game on Saturday in five innings, BC clinched its first conference win of the season to build confidence heading into the midweek matchup. With impressive performances by Emme Martinez, who went 9-for-14 at the plate last week, and leadoff batter Lexi DiEmmanuele, the Eagles were more than prepared for their in-state rival game against UMass (13-13), despite the lopsided historical results.

Anderson started on the mound for BC and did her job in the early going, keeping the Minutemen at bay. UMass’ Kaitlyn Stavinoha and Kaycee Carbone both reached with two down in the first, but a cohesive Eagles defense left them both on base. While BC found some trouble in the weekend finale with scoring, this game proved to be the exception out of the gate. Ellie Mataya scored the first run of the day to put BC on the board. Shortly thereafter, Jenna Ergle proved herself to be an offensive threat as she lined a double into left center, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Madison Hamilton to move her to third. Minutemen center fielder Erin Stacevicz worked to limit the damage, though, throwing Ergle out at third to end the inning and freeze the score at 1-0.

Anderson worked to preserve the advantage, fending off two scoring scares in the second to maintain the lead. UMass’ Alyssa Lyon reached on a hard bunt single past BC’s third basemen to put a pair on with no outs, but the Eagles protected home plate. The Minutemen were hardly ready to concede another run, however, as BC’s offense faced a similar fate. UMass freshman Kiara Oliver struck out back-to-back Eagles to strand a runner on third and keep the Minutemen within striking distance.

Things took a turn for the worse for the hosts in the third, but it was no fault of Anderson. After a throwing error to lead off the inning, Anderson got two outs before issuing a walk. With two on, the freshman seemed like she was out of the inning when she induced a groundout from Hannah Bunker, but an errant throw from shortstop Carly Severini allowed a run to score. Yet the Eagles responded in kind—Mataya struck again, lining a single to center and moving to second base for her second steal of the game. Gianna Boccagno singled to right, bringing home Mataya to regain the one-run Eagles advantage.

UMass fired back, forcing Eagles pitching coach Megan Brown to make a trip to the mound with the bases loaded and two outs to try and settle down Anderson, but the freshman followed by walking in a run. Garcia’s two-out double to the wall scored two more runners, allowing the Minutemen to take their first lead of the game, 4-2.

The Eagles cut into the UMass lead with one run in the fourth via an RBI single from Mataya, but stranded a run at third base in the following frame. That would prove costly, as the Minutemen capitalized on the Eagles’ missed opportunity and continued to pad the lead with a pair of two-run innings. They leaned on Oliver the rest of the way, and she strung together three straight scoreless innings for her fifth win of the season. The sophomore, who won last year’s Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year award, struck out nine, scattered three walks, and allowed a lone earned run in the complete game effort.

BC has lost back-to-back games by an identical 8-3 scoreline, reflecting the inconsistencies of the lineup. The Eagles, even with a 10-run outburst on Saturday against Syracuse, are averaging just 3.5 runs per game this season. Remove that 10-run effort—the only double-digit total this season—and that number slumps to under 3.3 per game. The lineup has plenty of talent, with DiEmmanuele and Martinez ranking 32nd and 33rd in the conference, respectively, in batting average. To make noise in the conference, though, the rest of the lineup will need to step up—remove those two, and the team’s average slumps from a respectable .256 to a shaky .223.

Featured Image by Delaney Vorwick / For The Heights

March 28, 2019