Boston College softball entered the 2021 season with a fair amount of optimism. The 2020 team, with eight freshmen and eight sophomores, posted a 9-12 record before its season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Returning 17 letterwinners, including all nine position player starters and three pitchers, this iteration of BC softball is characterized by experience.
The Eagles (0-1) opened their season in a non-conference matchup against Jacksonville (1-0), falling 4-0 to the Dolphins. Alyssa Bilodeau––Jacksonville’s pitcher and last season’s ASUN Atlantic Sun Conference strikeout leader––picked up where she left off, with a dominant no-hit, complete-game performance. Bilodeau recorded 12 strikeouts, allowing only one baserunner into scoring position all game. Bilodeau never allowed the Eagles to build momentum—the Eagles’ leadoff hitters went 0-7 in the game.
Jacksonville jumped on BC early with two runs in the opening frame and didn’t let up after that. Makenzie Buss, the Dolphins’ leadoff hitter and center fielder, reached base when she was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first. She stole second, and Hannah Roberts, the three-hole hitter, drove her in with a single to center field. Roberts advanced to second on the throw and scored two batters later on a throwing error.
BC’s batters struggled, and the Eagles didn’t reach base until the fifth inning. BC showed signs of a rally in the fifth, as BC catcher Gianna Boccagno reached base on an error, and shortstop Djhane Valido followed her up with a five-pitch walk. Kamryn Warman worked the count to 2-2 before striking out swinging, leaving two men on base.
Susannah Anderson, the ace of BC’s pitching rotation, registered an impressive outing of four innings, one earned run, and six strikeouts. Peyton Schnackenberg relieved Anderson in the fifth inning, allowing one earned run in two innings of work, and navigated out of a tough bases-loaded, one-out situation in the bottom of the fifth.
Thunderstorms in the top of the seventh inning halted play early. Before the delay and subsequent cancellation, BC appeared to be mounting a comeback. Jenna Ergle, BC’s second baseman and cleanup hitter, showed plate discipline by working a walk after going down 0-2 in the count. The game’s suspension came with Kristin Giery at the plate with an 0-2 count.
An early pair of errors proved costly for the Eagles in the game. In the first inning, down 1-0 with two outs, BC third baseman Emme Martinez’s errant throw allowed the runner from second to score, and Jacksonville doubled its lead to 2-0. Three innings later, with two outs and the score still at 2-0, Boccagno committed a throwing error attempting to pick off Jacksonville’s Kailey Harrigan at third base, resulting in another score.
Jacksonville, for its part, was not flawless in the field either. The Eagles’ near-rally in the fifth inning began with Dolphins’ third baseman Victoria Rodebaugh mishandling a ground ball hit by Boccagno. BC threatened to score but ultimately came up short in that inning.
All in all, however, Jacksonville played a clean defensive game, shutting out BC. Bilodeau appeared to take the matter into her own hands. She struck out 60 percent of the batters she faced, energizing her fielders and deflating the Eagles’ offense.
The Eagles suffered a minor setback in their first game in nearly a full year. They ran into Jacksonville’s dominant ace and ended up on the losing side. They return to the field tomorrow, playing a doubleheader against North Florida, a team coming off losses to Illinois State and Clemson to begin its season.
Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff