Doubleheaders were not commonplace in NCAA softball before the 2021 season, as a series used to consist of three games over a three-day weekend. With the one-game-per-day format, teams could successfully rely on the same one or two pitchers, who would have ample time to rest before returning to the circle on the following day.
Now, with the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple conferences have adopted a four-game series, including at least one doubleheader per weekend. This change has forced teams to develop a deeper and stronger pitching staff—something that BC has been unable to do with only three pitchers on its roster.
In their 11th doubleheader of the season, the Eagles (8-27, 4-19 Atlantic Coast) struggled to put together clean defensive innings against Pittsburgh (16-25, 11-20), falling 7-4 in the first game, followed by a 9-0 blanking in the second.
The second game was an offensive explosion from the Panthers, as they combined for nine unanswered runs on 12 hits.
In the first inning, Sarah Seamans started the run production with a two-run home run to left-center field. Pitcher Peyton Schnackenberg was quick to strike out the remaining batter for the inning, but BC could not respond after going down in order in the bottom of the frame.
With two outs in the second inning, Pitt strung together a couple of extra-base hits to extend its lead. Chandler Walter doubled to the right-center gap, and Lolo Sanchez followed her with a triple to plate a run and take a 3-0 lead.
An error from Erika Andal at second base allowed Sanchez to score, and the game suddenly began to slip away from the Eagles.
Brittany Knight was dialed in for the Panthers’ defense, allowing just three hits and retiring her last eight batters in order. Singles from Ellie Mataya and Jules Trevino gave the Eagles two baserunners in the third inning, but the BC lineup had nothing to show for it, as Knight took care of the remaining two outs.
Schnackenberg gave up another home run to Pitt. This time, it was a solo home run from Seamans, her second of the game. A triple from Hunter Levesque followed by a Morgan Batesole double extended the Panthers’ lead to 6-0.
Facing a large and still growing deficit, the Eagles struggled to shut the floodgates and prevent a run-rule mercy. CC Cook came in for relief, but the pitching change did not slow the Panthers’ offensive dominance. After two singles, Levesque doubled to left field to tally yet another run for Pitt, but Cook stranded the remaining two runners.
The Eagles’ offense went down quietly in the fourth and fifth innings. With two outs in the fifth inning, the defense once again could not stop the Panther offense. A double from Kayla Lane scored two runs to give the visitors a nine-run lead and end the game early.
The first game of the weekend, on the other hand, started off well for the Eagles. Despite a miscue from Djhane Valido at shortstop that allowed the Panthers’ first run, BC responded with six hits from the first seven batters and compiled four runs for an early lead.
Those four runs, however, were all the Eagles could muster. Even with ace Susannah Anderson in the circle, BC could not hold off the Panthers to secure the win.
Fielding miscues were an issue for both teams, due in part to the extensive wind at the Harrington Athletics Village.
Pitt scored in the second and third innings to tie the game at four. In both innings, tough ground balls evaded the BC defense, as hits deflected off infield gloves at multiple instances during the afternoon.
A tied game brought an entirely new atmosphere to the ballpark, and with the tides turning in their favor, the Panthers did not let up on Anderson. Neither team would score again until the sixth inning when Pitt utilized the small ball and the speed of its runners to plate two additional runs.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Eagles threatened with the bases loaded but could not put a run across. A run from the Panthers in the seventh made the game 7-4, and the visiting team put the game away in the bottom of the inning.
The silver lining in today’s performance from the Eagles was their pitching performance. Although the pitching staff gave up 25 hits over the two games, the Eagles only allowed a combined four free bases for the batters, a massive improvement from past games.
Featured Image by Aditya Rao / Heights Staff