Free passes can be costly for any softball team. Even with great fielders, it is impossible to defend against walks and hit-by-pitches, which puts pressure on the pitcher to find her rhythm in the circle and consistently find the strike zone.
Despite improving her accuracy on the mound and boasting a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio coming into Friday’s game, Susannah Anderson struggled early for Boston College (13-30, 8-22 Atlantic Coast) in the first game of the infamous Holy War, falling 1-0 to Notre Dame (29-12, 18-10).
In the top of the first inning, Ellie Mataya set the tone for BC by beating out an infield single, but the Eagles could not capitalize as the next three batters struck out swinging.
In the bottom of the first, Notre Dame scored without recording a hit. A leadoff hit-by-pitch followed by a walk and an unsuccessful fielder’s choice loaded the bases for the Fighting Irish. Anderson then uncharacteristically walked in a run, giving the home team the early 1-0 lead with nobody out.
As it turns out, one run was all Anderson would allow, but it was all the Fighting Irish needed.
After a visit to the mound from BC head coach Amy Kvilhaug, Anderson settled in the circle, striking out the next batter and letting her defense take care of the remaining two outs of the inning via two ground balls.
In the top of the second, a walk from Emme Martinez and a single by Gianna Randazza gave the Eagles two baserunners without an out. A perfectly placed sacrifice bunt from Kennedy Labshere put both runners in scoring position, but Notre Dame pitcher Alexis Holloway bore down and retired the rest of the side in order.
Anderson had a better showing in the second inning, facing one batter above the minimum and not allowing a hit. Against a talented Notre Dame offense that leads the ACC in batting average, Anderson kept batters off balance and prevented a hit until the fourth inning.
The top of the third inning mirrored that of the second, as the Eagles put two runners on, this time via a pair of singles from the Giery sisters, Nicole and Kristin. While BC could not push across a run in the frame, the solid contact kept the Eagles in the game and swung the momentum in their favor.
The Fighting Irish threatened to score again in the bottom half of the frame. Anderson loaded the bases on free passes, pushing her total to four walks and three hit batters through just three innings of play.
In the same pattern as two innings prior, Anderson held the game at 1-0, inducing two ground balls to end Notre Dame’s threat and work herself out of the inning.
Both pitchers dominated their respective offense in the fourth inning. Holloway threw an impressive 11 pitches for the Fighting Irish in the frame, which Anderson matched with nine pitches in her half.
In Friday’s outing, Holloway would face no more than five batters in each inning, and she only walked one over seven innings. She scattered five hits, and BC only touched third base once during the showdown.
For the third time that day, Anderson faced the Irish with the bases loaded in the fifth. A single, an error from Nicole, and a walk put pressure on the BC defense to cut down on runners and keep the score close. With one out, Anderson forced two ground balls to escape the inning unscathed, hopefully igniting her offense.
But the Eagles found no such luck, finishing the final two innings scoreless yet again.
While BC outhit Notre Dame 5-3, the Eagles simply could not string together enough hits to replicate the success they had against Louisville. They went without a hit in the last two innings, and the Irish secured their 12th straight win.
Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor