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BU Softball Opens Conference Play Tomorrow at Army

Terriers out to get more than a Patriot League championship

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  • A 4-3 BU win over number-one Oklahoma February 17 is the season highlight so far
  • The Terriers’ eight-game win streak ended with Wednesday’s 1-0 home opener loss to BC
  • BU begins conference play on the road tomorrow against Army 

Playing varsity softball in New England is not for the faint of heart. Consider this: the weather caused six postponements or cancellations for the Terriers since March 21. The coaching staff was able to put together six games at the last minute, and the team traveled to Connecticut to play in last weekend’s aptly named Nor’easter Invitational.

Head coach Ashley Waters says she warns her recruits about the consequences of the brutal late winter, early spring weather, which frequently results in disrupted schedules and indoor practices.

“It is what it is,” Waters says. “I would have liked to sleep in my own bed last weekend. But you know what? It’s what you signed up for, and you know all sides of it before you come.”

The Terriers (15-16) swept the tournament with six wins, pushing their winning streak to eight games before losing to rival BC, 1-0, in the season home opener Wednesday.

Waters says last season’s second-place finish is motivating players this year as they prepare to open conference play on Saturday with a noon doubleheader at Army. Expectations are high: the coach says her athletes entered the season in the best shape since she took over three years ago and they played the best fall softball she’s seen. The Terriers currently lead the Patriot League in most statistical categories, including batting average (.286), fielding percentage (.968), and ERA (2.59)—the last is particularly impressive considering that the pitching staff comprises underclassmen.

“Sometimes you have to fail in order to learn what you need to do better,” Waters says. “They have a goal in mind, and they’re shooting for it every single day.”

And that goal isn’t only winning the Patriot League conference and advancing to the NCAA regionals. The goal is “not just be somebody at the regional,” Waters says, but also “to take somebody out at the regional, to actually upset teams. I believe that they can do that, and they believe that they can do that.”

Jilee Schanda runs around the bases

Jilee Schanda (CGS’16, SHA’18) was the 2017 Patriot League Player of the Year.

The Terriers have already demonstrated that they’re capable of upending expectations. They defeated two-time reigning NCAA champion Oklahoma, 4-3, in the Troy Cox Classic on February 17. It was the program’s first time beating a team that’s number one in the country, and it clearly showed they can compete with anyone.

To start the the season in February, BU took on some formidable foes, beating Duke, 7-4, and losing to Ohio State 2-3 at the Florida Atlantic University Kick-off Classic. Battling tough opponents is important training, especially for the team’s freshmen, says captain Brittany Younan (CAS’17, Questrom’17, MET’18).

“It’s cool to get recognized on a national stage, obviously, like when ESPN’s posting about you, that’s always a good feeling,” Younan says. “But I think it’s also cool for the underclassmen to experience that we’re there. We’re on the same level as these teams.”

Players say they are approaching the start of conference play tomorrow with confidence, but also with caution. “It’s a matter of understanding that anyone in the Patriot League can literally beat you because everyone is so scrappy,” says Jilee Schanda (CGS’16, SHA’18).

For obvious reasons, starting their final conference play has special significance for the team’s seniors, and they’re feeling a combination of emotion and resolve.

“It’s super bittersweet, but I’m not going to let myself think about that until the very end, because there’s so much to get done,” Schanda says. “We’re looking to just really leave it all out there.”

The BU softball team travels to Army this weekend for its first series of Patriot League play. All games will be held at Army West Point Softball Complex, 639 Howard Rd., West Point, N.Y. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at noon, followed by a second game at 2 pm. Game three is Sunday, April 1, at noon.

Jonathan Chang can be reached at jchang19@bu.edu.

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