Softball Terriers Open at Home Today
America East favorites to host BC Eagles
Three weeks on the road, 22 nonconference games, teams from all over the country: you might say the BU women’s softball team is ready to wield bats and gloves at home.
The Terriers host the Boston College Eagles this afternoon in the season’s first home game and first America East conference matchup. They enter the game with a 15-8 record and a four-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming yesterday again Bryant in a 13-3 rout.
Shawn Rychcik, in his eighth season as softball team head coach, says BU’s tough schedule sets it apart from other AE schools.
“Our schedule is going to help us a ton, because I think we’ve played way beyond what our conference presents to us, and we’ve been able to perform,” Rychcik says. “Playing at that level has prepared us, and given us confidence as we face our conference opponents.”
BU began the season as heavy preseason favorites, earning five of seven first-place votes in the AE coaches preseason poll. The Terriers finished last season as AE regular season cochamps, but fell to Albany 3-1 in the conference championship game.
Rychcik is aware that being viewed as the heavyweight brings additional pressures, but says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“That was always my expectation—that we get picked on top—but we have to be ready for everyone’s best,” he says. “Regardless of how good or bad our opponent is, we can lose to anyone if we don’t come out and play our game.”
Although the Terriers have several talented offensive players, the team’s two strengths are pitching and defense. The pitching staff, led by reigning AE Pitcher of the Year Holli Floetker (CAS’14), boasts a 2.49 ERA and 111 strikeouts through 155.1 innings pitched.
Floetker has been especially dominant this season, earning a 10-2 record and a 2.03 ERA through her first 11 starts and 15 appearances overall. In addition to being named AE Pitcher of the Week on February 27, she has been named this week’s BU Student-Athlete of the Week.
She says that while she was pleased with her performance last year, during the offseason she focused on fine-tuning some aspects of her game.
“I pretty much maintained the same mind-set as last year, but I wanted to work on the little ins-and-outs of pitching that I didn’t quite get,” she says. “I tried to get my ball to move an extra inch, get it to be a mile an hour faster, just small things like that.”
Floetker is one of eight sophomores on a Terriers squad noted for its youth. The team has only six upperclassmen, and the starting lineup regularly consists of second-year players.
Fifth-year player Melanie Delgado (MET’12), the team’s starting first baseman, says the Terriers’ youth gives them an advantage.
“This team has kind of made it its purpose to be its own entity, and we do things a bit differently from years past in terms of team cohesiveness,” she says. “Younger girls have better energy, right? So it’s fun.”
“I think every year your team takes on a unique personality, and we’re pretty young,” says Rychcik. “But every one of those sophomores started last year, which gives us a ton of experience.”
Rychcik is quick to point out how much his team’s defense has improved from last season, but acknowledges that performance at the plate has been sporadic. The Terriers offense must overcome the loss of All-American outfielder April Setterlund (SMG’11), who hit .434 and had 10 home runs and 44 RBI last season. The team has also had to deal with the absence of AE Rookie of the Year Chelsea Kehr (CAS’14), who is recovering from an offseason knee injury that has caused her to miss 13 games so far this season.
Rychcik believes returning home after the long road trip will help sharpen his team’s offense.
“I think you can get in a rut sometimes over spring break, and until you get a change of scenery it doesn’t really change, so getting back here and taking some batting practice should put us in a pretty good spot going forward,” he says.
Floetker says her team has the talent needed to play deep into the postseason.
“I feel like we have a much better team mentality this year as far as talking to each other and making sure everyone’s comfortable,” she says. “So as long as we maintain that and stay aggressive, we expect to make a name for ourselves.”
The BU Terriers softball team faces the BC Eagles this afternoon, Thursday, March 22, at the BU Softball Field at 4 p.m. The field is across the street from the Track and Tennis Center on Ashford Street. Attendance at all home softball games is free.
Ben Carsley can be reached at email@example.com.+ Comments