Nearly 2,000 Boston College softball fans were in attendance for Saturday and Sunday’s games against Duke at Harrington Athletics Village. But the stands ran blue as the Blue Devils held strong in the crowd and on the field in both contests.
“The weather was great,” BC head coach Amy Kvilhaug said. “It was just a great environment for the student-athletes to play in.”
Duke (36–8, 13–5 Atlantic Coast) completed its sweep of the Eagles (19–22, 2–13) after BC dropped the first game of the series on Friday. Saturday’s game ended in a 3–0 loss, and Sunday’s contest ended with an extra-innings loss in the ninth. The Eagles did not go down without a fight, but stranded 13 runners between the two games which proved to be costly.
On Sunday, BC stayed in the game until the very end and then some, taking the Blue Devils to two extra innings.
Duke came out swinging in the first inning with a leadoff single from D’Auna Jennings. Deja Davis followed up with a single of her own, as did Gisele Tapia, and the bases were quickly loaded for Abby Dunning. Dunning proceeded to walk Ana Gold which brought Jennings in for a run, and Aminah Vega sent the ball to shallow left which allowed Davis to score. Tapia was thrown out at third, though, and a strikeout and pop out let the Eagles escape the inning trailing 2–0.
BC responded with Aleyah Terrell reaching first on an error, and Abigail Knight walked an out later. Nicole Giery singled, and Duke’s Claire Davidson struck out Zoe Hines which left Meghan Schouten with two outs and the bases loaded. It looked like BC would leave three base runners stranded as the count reached 0-2, but Schouten crushed one deep off the left field wall to send Terrell and Knight home. Davidson got her third strikeout and ended the inning, but not before the Eagles knotted the game at 2–2.
“I mean, they punch with two runs, we punch right back. I thought that was great,” Kvilhaug said.
Neither team scored in the next six innings, but not without drama, as BC left a runner stranded on third base three times.
Duke had opportunities as well, loading the bases in the top of the fourth, but Dunning battled back and left three stranded. The Eagles had a chance to win in the bottom of the eighth inning, loading the bases on two walks and an error with Maddy Carpe stepping up and hoping to end the game.
“I had a really good feeling Maddy was going to come through, you know?” Kvilhaug said. “Those are the opportunities that we need to capitalize on and we didn’t and that’s the difference in the ballgame, Maddy capitalizes and the game’s over.”
But a shallow flyout left all three stranded.
Duke broke through the stalemate in the top of the ninth inning after Dunning hit Jennings with a pitch and Davis singled past third. The runners advanced after a wild pitch, and Tapia sent a line drive directly at Dunning which bounced off of her body and allowed Jennings to score and take the lead. Dunning was pulled for Susannah Anderson, who quickly struckout Gold. But Vega singled to right, which sent Davis home for a 4–2 lead.
BC couldn’t come up with anything in the bottom of the inning, and Duke completed the sweep.
In Saturday’s game, Duke struck first in the top of the third inning, as Jennings made it to second base on an error by Erika Andal, and then made it to third on a passed ball. Tapia helped Duke convert on the Eagles’ mistake with a flyout to shortstop for an RBI. BC got out of the inning but trailed by one run.
The Eagles’ mistakes caught up to them, however, as Duke took over in the top of the sixth inning with Tapia hitting a leadoff single. Anderson walked Gold, Vega, and pinch hitter Kamryn Jackson for another run, which triggered a mound visit by Kvilhaug.
“Generally I go out there as a reset,” Kvilhaug said.
The mound visit seemed to pay off as Anderson struck out pinch hitter Sarah Goddard, but Duke wasn’t done, as a flyout to left field allowed Gold to tag up and score. The inning would end there with Duke leading 3–0.
Giery breathed life into the offense in the bottom of the seventh inning with a leadoff double off the centerfield wall. An out later, Schouten was walked which put the tying run at the plate. Duke opted to change pitchers and relieved Cassidy Curd for Lillie Walker.
Carpe put the ball in play with a line drive to left field and Giery sprinted to third, seemingly loading the bases. But after a bobble by the left fielder, Giery ran home. It proved to be a costly decision as Giery was thrown out at the plate which left pinch hitter Gianna Sarlo with two outs, two runners on, and a chance to keep the game alive. But a flyout to center field ended the game with an Eagles loss.
“You’ve got to convert at key moments,” Kvilhaug said. “We just, for whatever reason are not getting those key hits.”