Sports, Spring, Softball

 Dunning Dominates Game One but BC Splits Home Opener with Tar Heels

Having not played at home in 364 days, Boston College softball welcomed its return to Harrington Athletics Village on Friday for not one, but two games, as it played a doubleheader against North Carolina.

“Just a nice vibe to be at home,” BC head coach Amy Kvilhaug said. “The kids were loving it.”

Having gone winless over the past 12 days, the Eagles (16–12, 1–4 Atlantic Coast) managed to snap their four-game losing streak with a 3–1 win over North Carolina (12–21, 2–6) in the first game behind Abby Dunning’s six-strikeout performance. But not long after, the Tar Heels bounced back, blanking the Eagles 5–0 to hand BC its first loss on its home soil. North Carolina’s Kenna Dark pitched 10.1 straight scoreless innings spanning for two games. 

“The name of the game today was we weren’t able to execute that second game,” Kvilhaug said. “But the first game was a different story.”

Dark pitched all seven innings in game two, holding BC without any runs.

“We made a couple adjustments throughout the game in terms of where we’re standing in the box,” Kvilhaug said. “We adjusted, we just didn’t get the result.” 

Center fielder Kali Case made a diving catch in the first inning for BC’s first out, and BC’s starting pitcher Susannah Anderson made quick work of the rest of the lineup, getting out of the inning in just four batters. Dark then went three up three down in the bottom of the first inning to send the game into the second inning with no score.

Dark and Anderson traded scoreless inning after scoreless inning, with each squad’s respective defenses making some big plays, stranding a combined 12 runners on base over six innings. That is, until the top of the seventh inning. 

“I think we let them hang around far too long,” Kvilhaug said. 

North Carolina’s rally started with an Alex Brown single, and after Anderson hit the next batter, Kiersten Licea, with a pitch, the Tar Heels had a runner on first and second with no outs. Pinch hitter Carlie Myrtle sent them home the very next at-bat with an RBI double to left center to make it 2–0.

The Tar Heels quickly got two runners on base again, and Destiny Middleton hit a triple to drive both runs in to go ahead by four runs. And after a passed ball at third on the same play, Middleton scored, causing Kvilhaug to pull Anderson out of the game and replace her with Sofia Earle. Earle shut down the scoring barrage, but it was too little too late.

The Eagles showed promise in the bottom of the seventh inning when Kamryn Warman reached first base on a walk. But Dark’s pitching proved to be too powerful, as she and North Carolina’s defense took care of BC’s next three batters, leaving BC with a 5–0 loss and splitting the day.

But it was Dunning who was near perfect in the first game, as Dunning put on a throwing clinic. And through the first two innings, both teams remained scoreless.

North Carolina’s Carsyn Snead snuck one past second base for a hit in the third inning, and pinch runner Destiny Middleton stole second to put her in scoring position. With two outs, Abby Settlemyre sent one deep to right field, sending Middleton home for an RBI double.

The Eagles, however, responded in the bottom of the inning as Maddy Carpe blasted a hit to the back right corner of the field, beating the throw for a triple. Hannah Slike then stepped up to bat and drove Carpe home for an RBI single to tie the game at one apiece.

One at-bat later, Nicole Giery drove a line drive to left, advancing Slike to second, and Warman delivered with two outs, ripping the ball deep to right center to send both Giery and Slike home to put BC ahead 3–1 to end the third inning.

That was all the scoring the game featured, though, as Dunning played all seven innings, allowing three hits and striking out six.

“We were super super prepared for what they were going to throw at us,” Kvilhaug said. “We practice all of the on the run type plays, all the quick plays, all the short plays, the fun plays.”

With BC down two runs in the top of the seventh inning, Zoe Hines displayed a highlight reel diving catch, laying out in foul territory to grab the first out of the inning. Licea then popped out for the second out, leaving North Carolina’s comeback hopes in the hands of Isabela Emerling. But Dunning delivered, as she struck Emerling out after bringing her to a full count, grabbing the Eagles their first home win of the season.

March 25, 2023