Boston College softball entered this weekend’s series sitting at the bottom of the ACC at 1-8, looking to take a series from conference rival Virginia to move closer to qualifying for the ACC Tournament. Thursday’s doubleheader didn’t go to plan, and the Eagles dropped both games. The Eagles’ prospect of taking the series was gone, but a series split was still in reach. On Friday, the Eagles took a step in the right direction, beating Virginia 3-1 with timely hitting and strong defensive play.
Cavaliers’ pitcher Mackenzie Wooten got through 2.2 clean innings in relief, looking to finish off a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth as Eagles’ catcher Gianna Boccagno took her turn at the plate.
On a 2-2 delivery from Wooten, Boccagno swung through, which would have sent her out on strikes, but Virginia catcher Ashley Jennings didn’t stick the pitch, and it dropped onto home plate.
Jennings released the potential inning-ending throw to first base late, forcing Tori Gilbert to scoop a short hop to make the out. Gilbert appeared to smother the ball with her glove on the dirt, but she didn’t make the catch. Boccagno was safe at first.
Gilbert gave the umpire a look as if to say “really?” and then retook her position by first base. Then, Djhane Valido walked, still with two outs on the board. CC Cook laid down a drag bunt single, loading the bases.
Aly Rayle, who replaced Wooten after Cook’s bunt, was greeted by the top of the Eagles’ lineup, beginning with Ellie Mataya, who was batting .380 entering the day and already had two hits on the game. Mataya delivered again, check swinging a liner into shallow left-center field, scoring two to put the Eagles up 3-1.
Rayle rebounded by getting Nicole Giery to ground out to finish the inning, but the damage was done. Susannah Anderson, through five one-run innings, retook the circle and finished off the Cavaliers in the next two innings, locking in a BC win.
Anderson kept her pitches down, forcing the Cavaliers’ lineup to play small ball. Inning after inning, the Cavaliers beat low fastballs and off-speed offerings from Anderson into the ground, and the Eagles’ infield handled the 13 ground balls on the day with ease.
Shortstop Valido was a vacuum on the left side of the infield, effortlessly ranging up the middle and into the 6-5 hole, making back-foot and running throws, and ending the day with five assists. Third baseman Emme Martinez showed her range and made fielding choppers look easy, anticipating bounces and making precise throws to first baseman Kristin Giery.
Mataya posted a 3-for-4 day at the plate, sending her batting average on the season to .418. She looked unfazed when Cavaliers’ head coach Joanna Hardin brought in Rayle, her ace, from the bullpen in the hopes of ending the Eagles’ scoring opportunity. Mataya drove in the two runs that proved to be decisive for the Eagles, adding on to her previous double and single to complete her day at the plate.
Anderson was efficient in her outing Friday, clocking in at 99 pitches for a complete-game victory. In the fourth inning, after the Eagles left the bases loaded in the top of the frame, Anderson didn’t let her teammates down. In three pitches, three Virginia batters returned to their dugout. By allowing only five hits and striking out two, Anderson finished the day with her season’s ERA lowered to 2.59.
Featured Image by Kristian Lamarre / Heights Staff