Sports, Spring, Softball

BC Can’t Overcome Early Struggles Against Jacksonville

Boston College softball never fully woke up for its game against Jacksonville early on Sunday morning. The Eagles (1-3) hoped to bounce back from their season-opening loss against the Dolphins on Friday but ultimately fell 3-2 to close out a four-game opening weekend.

“I know our kids were disappointed about the results column,” said head coach Amy Kvilhaug. “But we talked a lot about just getting better every single game. And I actually did feel like … getting better every single game isn’t necessarily linear. If you can kind of get better over time, that’s kind of the key, and that’s what the process is about. And I really did feel like we got better.”

The Eagles were undoubtedly eager to prove their batting skills after Jacksonville’s Alyssa Bilodeau—the 2020 ASUN Conference strikeout leader—pitched a no-hitter against BC on Friday. Jacksonville made sure to keep the Eagles’ bats quiet for the second time in three days, only allowing five hits the entire game on Sunday. 

The Dolphins used three pitchers throughout the duration of the game, never letting the Eagles get comfortable at the plate. Jacksonville also made sure Gianna Boccagno, BC’s catcher and one of the Eagles’ biggest hitters, didn’t stand a chance in the box. Boccagno stepped up to bat, and twice she was intentionally hit by a pitch.

The Eagles struggled to capitalize under pressure even with runners in scoring position. In total, the Eagles left 14 players on base, while Jacksonville left only three. BC had its biggest opportunities to score in the first two innings when Skylar Whitty—a go-to starter for the Dolphins—walked four players, hit one, and granted one hit, allowing the Eagles to load the bases both innings and put four players in striking distance. 

When it came down to it, the Eagles could not hit through Jacksonville’s defense to advance their players across home plate. Jacksonville fought back stronger and rose to the occasion despite Whitty’s early-game struggles. Even on the rare occasions that she showed weakness on the mound, the Dolphins’ infield gave Whitty a strong defense in high-pressure situations. The Eagles just couldn’t get their bats hot enough to break through the infield wall. 

“You know, we worked some walks, we were able to get a bunch of people on base, [but] we just weren’t able to get … those couple big hits that we needed at the key times, which is really what it boils down to,” Kvilhaug said. 

Whitty pitched three complete innings, allowing no runs until the Eagles finally got comfortable with her pitching. The Eagles showed signs of a rally at the top of the fourth inning when Jules Trevino and Ellie Mataya stepped up for their third at-bats. Trevino started the inning off with a double, followed up by another double from Mataya, advancing Trevino across home plate for the Eagles’ only earned run of the game. 

After allowing one run, Bilodeau quickly relieved Whitty. Although the Eagles were familiar with Bilodeau from facing her on Friday, they still could not quite get the hang of her pitching. Yet again, the Eagles’ bats could not find the right places to hit the ball, and Bilodeau ended the inning quickly after the pitching switch. 

The Eagles only scored against Bilodeau in the sixth inning due to a field error from the third baseman, Victoria Rodebaugh, making the score 3-2. 

The Eagles were nearing a comeback, but one final pitching switch kept them out of striking range. The Dolphins switched to Seana Mora’s pitching in the last inning. Mora faced four batters total, striking out two, walking one, and grounding out Mataya to end the game.

Not only was BC no match for Jacksonville’s pitching, but the Eagles just could not hit the ball in the right places to get through the defense. The Dolphins’ three pitchers combined for seven strikeouts.

Susannah Anderson—credited with eight of the Eagles’ nine wins in the 2020 season—had a tough game, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Jacksonville was quick to get used to Anderson’s pitching, scoring all three of its runs against Anderson. The Eagles put the Dolphins’ bats to a stop in the fourth inning after a pitching change to CC Cook, a two-way player. Cook allowed only two hits for the rest of the game. 

BC’s early-game struggles proved too much to overcome. Despite almost finding a rhythm, the Eagles could not get the ball past Jacksonville’s wall of a defense. Not only were the Eagles’ bats sleeping, but Jacksonville made sure they did not stand a chance by minimizing BC’s opportunities to find any gaps. 

Sunday’s loss meant BC won just one of its four opening weekend games, a similar pattern to its two-win, five-game opening weekend in 2020. 

Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Senior Staff

February 15, 2021